Pictures of scattered furniture at Uzair Jan Baloch’s home in Lyari conveniently surfaced on Saturday, lending credibility to the police’s story of conducting a raid, but the man himself was apparently nowhere to be found.
The chief of the Karachi City Alliance – previously known as the defunct Peoples Amn Committee – and others were declared proclaimed offenders by an Anti-Terrorism Court on July 23 in the murder case of alleged Lyari gangster, Arshad Pappu. The same day, Baloch hosted an iftar for media personnel and others which caught the attention of Sindh High Court Chief Justice Mushir Alam, who on July 25, took suo motu notice of police’s failure to arrest Baloch. The police party, led by Lyari SP Najam Tareen, reportedly conducted a raid at Baloch’s residence in Singo Lane but believed that the suspect managed to escape right before they arrived.
“As the police reached his home, Baloch fled by going from one house to the other,” said Tareen. “We believe that certain informers leaked our plan to raid his house.” Tareen, however, did not elaborate on the informants’ links with police or with Baloch. He told The Express Tribune that Baloch’s network was so strong that as soon as the police arrive in the area, Baloch was told that he was the target.
Interestingly, despite being aware of Baloch’s stronghold in Lyari and his informants, the police chose not to cordon off the area and instead, restricted their raid only to his house. The law enforcing agencies did not seize the offenders’ properties, as directed by the court, nor conducted raids for the other proclaimed offenders. “We’ll arrest him soon,” was Tareen’s final, and noncommittal, statement.
Out of the country
The spokesperson for Baloch, Gulab, had another angle for The Express Tribune which involved Baloch travelling abroad for ‘business’ purposes. “He is out of the country and has been informed about the raid,” claimed Gulab, but when asked to specify the date of travel and destination, he preferred to keep things vague.
He alleged that the police misbehaved with Baloch’s family members and other residents of Lyari outside Baloch’s residence. “At least ten of our boys were arrested and released later,” he said. “Why is the court only interested in taking up those cases which defame Baloch’s political career? Why are our petitions not being heard? Pappu was not killed in Lyari.”
Police officials confirmed that 15 persons were arrested but all of them were released within a few hours. “Uzair has not left Pakistan yet. We believe he is still in Karachi and will soon be traced,” clarified Tareen, adding that at the most, Baloch could escape to Gwadar, Balochistan. “We will also conduct raids to arrest the other men wanted in the Arshad Pappu case.”
Soon after the raid, residents of the area protested against the police. The SHC had ordered the Sindh IG Police to submit a report within one week explaining why Baloch had not been apprehended as yet.
Tension continues in Lyari
Tension also prevailed in Agra Taj after two unknown men tried to kidnap a teenage boy on Friday evening from Al-Fallah Road. The men reportedly opened fire on residents when some of the shopkeepers and others tried to stop the kidnapping. Zubeida, 45, died on the spot while her daughter, Sania, 17, was wounded. Following the incident, two hand grenade attacks took place in the vicinity, injuring four others.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2013.