KARACHI: The residents of Chanesar Goth didn’t rejoice over the death of notorious gangster Ashok Kumar too long – their relief was overcome by the fear of who would take the late criminal’s place and if they would actually be able to get rid of the violence plaguing their area.
“One by one, new faces emerge and either add to the list of existing gangsters or replace the ones killed,” said Khalid Khaskheli, a resident of the area. “It is possible that someone would replace Ashok and continue to run the gang or maybe this could be the end of the gang war. We [residents] can only wait and see.”
Shaukat aka Ashok Kumar and his two companions, Imran aka Immi and Imran’s younger brother Rizwan aka Kakku, were killed in an encounter when the Rangers conducted a raid at their hideout in Model Colony, Malir, late Tuesday night. As soon as news of Ashok’s death spread, armed gangsters opened aerial firing on the streets. Routine and commercial activities came to a halt in the area and residents stayed inside their homes with hopes that the violence would not escalate. An extra contingent of law enforcers stood guard at the entry and exit points of Chanesar Goth and its narrow streets, successfully preventing any major backlash to the killing.
For the law enforcers, Ashok’s death counts as a major success as they’ve had a hard time in tracking down criminals in Chanesar Goth, an area once notorious for drug peddlers.
“Just as Rehman Baloch was the Sardar [chief] of Lyari, Ashok had made his place at the top in Chanesar Goth,” SHO Mohammad Sarwar told The Express Tribune.
According to an insider, Ashok’s group has weakened after its leader’s death, giving the law enforcers a good opportunity to establish their writ in Chanesar Goth. “Right now, there is no big name, only small gangsters. If the law enforcers continue their operation, there is a good chance that they’ll be able to take out Hackle’s gang as well.”
Possibilities of replacement
The gang war in Chanesar Goth has claimed lives of residents, law enforcers and many others. Ashok Kumar, who was among the key players in the war, was wanted in a number of crimes, such as target killings, extortions and kidnappings for ransom. After the death of gangster Aziz Lasi, Ashok’s main rivals were Hackle and his wife, Fatima.
Ashok’s gang members, however, are certain that the gangster’s ‘legacy’ will live on. “We are busy with the funeral and burial right now but it is certain that the gang will remain intact. Maybe Immi’s other brother, Jabal, will become the new leader. He is capable of running the gang,” said a member of Ashok’s gang.
Supporters of Ashok denied that he was a gangster, saying he looked after the poor people of the area. “Ashok was our son, our brother and our father – he was the masiha,” said an elderly woman. “He helped the less fortunate in arranging marriages, funerals and also gave them food.” On the other hand, Hackle’s gang members are hopeful that they will be able to take control of the area now. “After Ashok’s death, the only option left for his men is to shake hands with us. Otherwise, they will be killed either by us or the law enforcers,” said a member of Hackle’s gang.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2013.