As residents return to Lyari after a week, so does the violence

Members of both groups have been killed during the so-called two days of peace, say residents.

Residents of Lyari, who had moved to Thatta and Badin due to the violence in the area, returned to their homes on Tuesday. But just when they thought it was safe to come back, the body of 45-year-old Hanif Kutchi was found from Pak Colony, followed by gunfire and rocket attacks in the area. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

KARACHI: The two-day lull in Lyari turned out to be only a fleeting glimpse of normalcy for its residents as violence resumed on Tuesday with the killing of another member of the Kutchi community and injuries of more than two dozen people. 

The displaced families had gone to Badin and Thatta due to the escalating violence between the two groups in Lyari - Kutchi Rabita Committee (KRC) and the Peoples Amn Committee (PAC). But just when they thought it was safe to return to their homes on Tuesday, body of 45-year-old Hanif Kutchi, a close aide of Kutchi community leader Akhtar Kutchi, was found from Pak Colony, followed by gunfire and locally made rocket attacks in the area.

“Leaving our homes and migrating from one place to the other is not easy,” said Ali Kutchi, while talking to The Express Tribune. “We were told that peace has been restored in Lyari but upon our arrival, it seems that everything is just as we left it. Now should we stay or again leave the city?”

According to police officials, Hanif was abducted from Lyari on Monday - the same day the Baloch and Kutchis had reached an agreement to end their conflict. Hanif was reportedly tortured and then shot dead before his body was dumped at Pak Colony.

As Hanif’s body was taken to his house, four rockets were fired in Phool Patti Lane, wounding over two dozen people. The injured were shifted to Karachi Civil Hospital and Lyari General Hospital. “Only Baloch people were injured in the attacks,” said Akhtar Baloch. “Do people still think that we would injure our own people?”

According to residents, however, Hanif was not the only who had gone missing during the two-day cease fire. They said that at least half a dozen people from both sides have been abducted and killed by the rival group’s members.

“For everyone in the city, there was calm. But for us, the situation remained the same,” said a resident of Mandara Mohalla. “It seems that this Ramazan will also be like the previous two unless the government and law enforcers come up with a lasting strategy.”

Questionable role of law enforcers

Despite the tall claims by the government and law enforcers to establish pickets in the affected areas of Lyari, concrete steps have yet to taken. The residents of the affected areas have suggested law enforcers to establish their pickets in at least eight sensitive points to keep an eye on both groups - these areas include Main Nagori Chowk on Ahmed Shah Bukhari Road, Hungorabad Jamaat Khana on Haji Bacchal Hussain Road, Street No. 9 of the Mandara Mohalla, Street No. 9 of Al Falah Road, Street No. 9 and 10 of the Kutchi market, Street 9 of the Babu Hotel Road and main Juna Masjid Chowk and Hungorabad.

“The law enforcers would be able to control 90 per cent of the situation by establishing their pickets at these points,” said the residents.

The KRC has expressed its reservations over the performance of the law enforcers in Lyari, believing that one-sided action being taken. “We are not against any particular force but we feel they are not doing their job honestly,” said KRC leader Hussain Kutchi. “The Rangers and police personnel deployed in Lyari should be replaced.”

PAC, on the other hand, appears to be satisfied with the law enforcers’ performance but feel that more efforts could be made. According to PAC spokesperson, Zafar Baloch, the role of Rangers in the area had become positive.

Rangers officials vehemently denied allegations of favouring criminals and said that the pickets in Lyari were being established. “This is all rubbish,” said the official. “Why would we support any group - we want peace not only in Lyari but in the entire city.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.


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