By: MALEEHA HAMID SIDDIQUI
KARACHI: The displaced women from the violence-afflicted Lyari area have appealed to the higher authorities to ensure peace and safety in their area so that they with their families can return to their neighbourhoods.
They were speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday.
“Our conditions are deteriorating day by day. More than 50,000 people have migrated from Lyari so far. Pregnant women are particularly suffering as some of them are forced to live in places without roof. Every other day trussed-up bodies of our men are dumped in our lanes,” said Saima Saleem, who had migrated to Badin with her family due to the violence in Lyari and had specially come to Karachi to speak at the press conference.
She appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice over the situation. She also claimed that since educated people resided in Hingorabad and Mundra Mohallas, they were particularly being targeted.
Another young woman, who did not disclose her name, said her brother Shoaib Hingoro, who worked in the Karachi Dock Labour Board, was shot dead on July 5 and nobody from his family could pick up his body from the street as there was intense crossfire between criminal gangs. When asked if an FIR of the murder was registered, she said that they tried several times to go to the Baghdadi police station to lodge one but every time they were prevented from filing an FIR.
“What is this third force that is being blamed for troubles in Lyari? Why is it not being investigated,” asked a female from Lyari. According to her it was the uncontrolled drug menace in their locality with letting loose of prominent criminals such as Baba Ladla that was the cause of woes in Lyari. “The day Baba Ladla is caught, that day peace will return to our areas,” claimed the girl. She also added that they (Kutchhis) had no issues with the Balochs, the conflict in Lyari was between gangsters.
Ms Saleem, who was the most vocal of the lot, said every other day nine to 10 “awan grenades” were being hurled in Hingorabad and Mundra Mohalla as a result Mundra had become an unlivable locality. “No one can stay there. We, especially the Kutchhis, have been given ultimatums to leave the area. But where do we go?” she said. She wanted the authorities investigate the use and supply of “awan” grenades by the Rangers.
When asked why their community was unwilling to negotiate, the women from Lyari became visibly agitated. One of the quieter ones spoke up: “How can you expect our people to negotiate with those who take oaths on the Holy Quran in mosques saying that they would refrain from violence and the next day we find two trussed-up bodies in our lanes?” She said if they were guaranteed that after negotiations there would be no more dead bodies turning up in their lanes, they would certainly talk.
A couple of women said that they had been given threats that even though Ramazan would be relatively peaceful, on Eid they would be “gifted” their men’s bodies.
The Women’s Action Forum, a nongovernmental organisation, that was a part of the press conference, said that they supported the demands of the displaced women and demanded that the provincial government ensure that all displaced families were aided in returning to their homes and to ensure peace and safety in Lyari.