KARACHI: Thatta has opened its arms for the influx of Lyari residents who have made their way to its shores after a week-long gun battle in their hometown. The hospitality was not shared by all as a few of the refugees were evicted from a school building on Monday morning in a series of ‘unclaimed’ orders.
According to a resident of Muhammad Hasham village near Bhambhore, nearly 3,000 displaced persons had arrived since tensions escalated in Lyari. While most residents have been accommodated in houses, a few families were living inside a government school building.
At 3am on Monday, the residents received calls from a few education department officials to force those families out, said a resident on the condition of anonymity. “I was told the district government was issuing these orders on instructions from CM House,” he added.
Meanwhile, education department’s Ghulam Hussain Soomro also confirmed that these directives were issued but he failed to elaborate why. Two school rooms were being occupied, he added. As soon as the sun rose, these people got on their trucks and left the village, a resident said, adding that a few of those who were living in houses also left in fear. There are, however, still a significant number of Lyari people left in Bhambore.
As the day wore on, the hospitality for the incoming displaced persons grew and several police and revenue department officials visited the village and assured the families of their support. “We are trying to get the total figure of displaced persons to provide them all basic necessities,” said Thatta deputy commissioner Agha Shahnawaz. Those families who are living in his district would not be displaced till the situation returns to normalcy, he assured. “Families from Lyari could go back whenever they want.”
Situation in Badin
The Kutchis who migrated to Badin have to struggle with poor conditions. Most of the families are living in the city’s Kutchi neighbourhoods and around 50 of them are living outside the religious congregation site, Dargah Shah Gurio, nearly 20km from Badin city.
The men in the families avoided talking to media and the women, with their faces hidden behind veils, explained that they feared the consequences of speaking to the media. “We want to live in peace for a few days,” said an elderly woman. “The media could create problems for us and we’ll be targeted once we talk against gangsters.”
A majority of these men were doing blue-collar jobs and have now taken up residence in the slums outside the shrine. The villagers informed the district management has yet to contact them, adding that it would be difficult for them if more families arrived.
Situation back home
Despite the president’s orders, Lyari remained tense on Monday. The families who migrated fear to return while the police have yet to set up pickets. A convoy of Rangers personnel, led by Rangers director-general Rizwan Akhtar, visited Lyari on Monday afternoon, when the residents told him that the situation will not become normal until and unless the law enforcers set up pickets in sensitive parts. They complained that not a single criminal had been arrested even though they continue to find bodies of members of both the fighting groups.
Rumours that those people who were returning were being kidnapped by the rival gang also created fear. “My older brother called me to take another route and hide my identity card, said a rickshaw driver, Siddique. “He told me the rival group was kidnapping youngsters after checking their identities.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2013.
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