KARACHI: It’s not a Lyari gang war or resistance any more, it’s more like a game of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
This week, the government cut off cell phone services, internet access and phone lines to make sure that Lyari’s fighters could not contact the outside world as the police tried to smoke out criminals. The only problem is, they don’t rely on this kind of technology.
Mobsters such as Baba Ladla and his right-hand man Sikandar Siku communicate over walkie-talkie so they know when and where to launch rockets and open fire. “The commanders use code words to identify their area and their people use it to show who they are working for,” said a source. “One code is not just for one person, but the entire gang.”
Over 20 walkie-talkie sets were being used by the men who further cloak the operations in code names. The commander’s number serves four purposes – it identifies the man himself, his location, the group of fighters and to discuss their next move.
Each fighter is allowed to set up one morcha or look-out corner so that they can back up men fighting in the street. They are not allowed to leave their post until they get the signal.
According to another source, Noor Mohammad better known as Baba Ladla, the chief operation commander, is identified as 91 and had two walkie-talkies at his disposal. The source claimed that Ladla’s second set is used by Sikandar Siku. Jabbar Jhengu and Omar Kutchi use one set and the numeral 44.
Fighters in Lyari have been using walkie-talkies since 2002 but started relying on them more frequently since the war between Rehman aka Dakait and Arshad Pappu flared up in 2009.
The sets cost about Rs10,000 and sell in Saddar. Security companies, for example, acquire them legally and the police can then intercept the communication over these wireless handsets. Their frequencies are then set and a police station can monitor the communication.
The ones used illegally in Lyari have a range of two to three kilometres and cannot be intercepted by the police.
The authorities seem to have understood that they are up against a different kind of warfare now. “We have found that jamming phones in the area has not been productive and has only affected the public,” said deputy police chief Akhtar Gorchani, acknowledging that the men use walkie-talkies.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2012.