Friday night was a bad night for the residents of Muslimabad, Landhi. The source of their discontent - the Rangers - who they claim raided the neighbourhood and killed three people, including a 38-year-old woman. Over a dozen men were taken into custody as the Rangers considered them suspects.
To express their anger the residents got together to protest on Saturday. They claim that the Rangers and officials from their intelligence wing walked into their neighbourhood in the middle of the night and cordoned it off. They went door-to-door looking for people they thought were drug dealers. Some residents put up a fight. The residents demanded that the government should file an FIR against the Rangers.
According to Quaidabad DSP Pervez Iqbal Bhatti, no case was registered. “They people who died in last night’s operation were innocent,” he said. “We’re in the process of getting a legal opinion regarding the FIR.”
A witness claims that a bit after the Rangers started their door-to-door search, some unidentified men opened fire at the law enforcement agents and as a result two jawans were injured.
The Rangers did not retaliate immediately and instead they made their way deeper into the area and then started to fire. Fifty-five-year-old Abdul Rasheed, 32, Bani Guldara and an unidentified man were killed. Soon after, more Rangers were called in to help conduct the search.
“Some people shot at the Rangers from rooftops but they were gone within minutes,” said Sher Dil, a resident. “When the Rangers started firing it caused more chaos and confusion. People were running around trying to save their own lives.”
Protestors claimed that the people who died were innocent. “What were the old men and woman guilty of? She was the mother of six children,” they said. “The Rangers should prove that the people they killed were guilty. Otherwise, they should accept that they made a mistake.” They added that if the Rangers were looking for a drug dealer or gambling den, they should have gone to Sarzameen Khan’s.
Bani Guldaras body was taken to Swat for the burial, her relative Gul Zaman told The Express Tribune that she was trying to save her husband’s life when the incident took place.
Muslimabad is a predominantly Pakhtun area with a population of approximately 30,000 people. Most residents work in factories or as security guards. The narrow and congested lanes have a marked resemblance with the streets of Lyari.
Rangers spokesperson Major Sibtain Rizvi refused to comment on the record when The Express Tribune contacted him. He only said that the Rangers had carried out a raid against the drug mafia in Landhi and had arrested 12 suspects.
The police told The Express Tribune that the Rangers had gone ahead with the search operation without taking them into confidence. A senior police official at the Landhi police station said that there was always the threat of the Taliban entering the city and that might have prompted the raid. He added that most Taliban considered the area a safe haven. “We suspect that going after the drug mafia was just an excuse made by the Rangers,” he said. “What they really wanted to do was go after the Taliban.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2012.
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