KHAIRPUR: “Oye you mad men!” yells the boat driver at a man walking with two dogs in a village that has been turned into an island by the flood. “Get out of there, if the second wave of floods hits, you’ll drown too!”
But the 28-year-old man smiles and shrugs, “Nothing will happen saeen.”
“These crazy men are just staying in their village to kill the pigs,” the boat driver, Riaz, said with a disdainful laugh.
Tucked away near the River Indus, with date trees, mango orchards and dense forests nearby, Morli is a small village with around 250 houses and a population not more than 5,000. It is located about seven miles from Khairpur city.
When the floods hit the village, most of the women and children were moved to safer areas. But since the water did not enter the houses, which are built on elevated ground, the young men decided to stay behind. And while the district administration maintains that these men refused to evacuate because they were all ‘dakus’ scared to be taken up by the police, the villagers have a story of their own.
“For the past few years the number of wild boars destroying our fields has increased,” said 28-year-old Khair Muhammad, who was walking his two dogs in the marooned, half-abandoned village. “Now that the flood has inundated their habitat, the boar have nowhere to go.”
So the village boys are here to stay and take ‘revenge’.
Most of the households own at least one dog, trained to scare off, and when required attack, wild boars that are a menace as they eat sown crops and stocked food all year round. The water has damaged the fields beyond repair and the pigs are running amok because their homes in the forests have been flooded too.
All day these men look for pigs and set their dogs on them, glad to be able to get to them finally. According to the villagers, they have killed at least 23 pigs in the last three to four days. Most of the dogs are bulldogs or mongrels, trained to fight.
According to a scout, Irshad Ali, not all of these pigs are being killed in revenge. Some of the villagers are capturing the pigs with the help of their dogs and are planning to sell these animals to feudal lords.
“These pigs can fetch up to Rs20,000 to Rs30,000 because these waderas use the animals and make them fight one another and even dogs for fun,” Ali explained. Due to the flood, a special breed of pigs, particularly favoured in these fights, have come out of their homes and are being hunted by the villagers.
Before the floods, these dogs would be let out in the night to guard the villagers’ fields. With their families safe in relief camps, these men have stored rations to last them for a while, thereby leaving them free to hunt and kill the boar. As villager Mir Bukhsh puts it simply: “We just spend our days with our dogs, hunting for pigs.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2010.