Gang war: The calm in Lyari may be one before a storm

Published: June 12, 2013
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An APC stands in Lyari. PHOTO: RASHID AJMERI/EXPRESS

An APC stands in Lyari. PHOTO: RASHID AJMERI/EXPRESS

KARACHI: As fewer gunshots rang the air in Lyari on Tuesday, residents have reason to worry that this may be the calm before a storm. The gangsters in Lyari have reached a ‘temporary ceasefire’, but The Express Tribune has learnt that the notorious gangster, Ghaffar Zikri, has reportedly returned.

At least seven people lost their lives and more than 40 were injured in the three days of continuous gunshots, rocket and hand-grenade attacks in Lyari. The situation was tense in the neighbourhood two weeks prior to this as well.

The law-enforcement agencies have failed to make any significant arrests but they did succeed in their pressure tactics to cool down the fighting gangsters, boasted DC South Mustafa Jamal Qazi. Rangers director-general Major General Rizwan Akhtar and Sindh IGP Shahid Nadeem Baloch visited Lyari and reviewed their deployment. They have also established police and Rangers’ pickets with latest equipment.

The violence initially broke out between the Baloch and Kutchi communities in the aftermath of the general elections as the latter believed they were being punished for not supporting the Pakistan Peoples Party in the elections. The situation calmed down for two weeks after a peace committee, led by the DC South, was constituted to resolve the issues between both groups.

However, both groups collided again from May 9 when the law enforcers retreated from Lyari, after the killing of notorious gangster, Fahim, allegedly by the Rangers. “Once they retreated, it gave the miscreants a chance to worsen the situation,” said Qazi. “Now they have reached a ceasefire and the credit goes to us.”

According to the updated security plan, seven pickets have been set up in at least five different spots, including two each in Kalri and Chakiwara and one in Baghdadi. Nearly a dozen law enforcers, including sharpshooters of Rangers and the police, have been deployed. They have also been given telescopes, wireless sets and night-vision goggles.

“The law enforcers are keeping an eye on the whole area through these pickets,” said SHO Sanaullah. “The shooters will take action on their own when they can, otherwise they will use armoured personnel carriers and vans.”

Even though the police are hopeful, the residents are not. “Why do the police and Rangers only get in action after we lose so much blood,” demanded a resident. “This is not the first time this happened. Just wait a few days, these pickets will disappear and the fight will start again.”

Return of Zikri

According to a Lyari gang war insider, a grand alliance has reportedly been formed against the Lyari gangsters. The former union council nazim of Lyari, Rauf Baloch, his brother Amjad Lashari, members of Shaheed Bhutto group, the nationalist party of Sindh and another political party are allegedly part of this alliance, which will reportedly be headed by Arshad Pappu group’s top commander, Zikri.

“Zikri has returned but it’s not clear if he has become active or not,” said an insider, adding that he was not sure if all the alliance members were participating in this fight. Meanwhile, the Kutchi Rabita Committee also staged a protest outside the press club on Tuesday against the Lyari gangsters.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2013.

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