BEHIND the colourful names and daring exploits of the characters associated with the Lyari ‘gang war’ there lies a dark reality which manifests itself through murder and mayhem. The grisly death of notorious gangster Arshad Pappu is perhaps a prime example of the sheer brutality with which criminals operate in Lyari — one of Karachi’s most rundown neighbourhoods. Pappu met an ignominious end on Sunday, with his body left on a junk heap. Reports indicate that the gangster’s body, along with that of his brother, was mutilated and burned. It is said Pappu meted out similar treatment to the body of a rival criminal’s father after kidnapp-ing and killing him. The incident also indicates the helplessness of law-enforcement agencies when it comes to Lyari: police were prevented from recovering Pappu’s body, which was allegedly taken away by gangland rivals. This illustrates who really calls the shots in Lyari. The death of Arshad Pappu was celebrated in parts of the neighbourhood with song, dance and distribution of sweetmeats.
By all accounts the gangster led a violent, crime-filled life and perhaps such an unsavoury end was the natural conclusion to such an existence. Yet the death and gruesome treatment of his body reflects the savagery criminals are capable of, and the state’s inability to crack down on the gangsters that have held Lyari hostage. The state’s actions in the area are reactionary: once in a while police and Rangers will storm into Lyari to conduct operations that produce few lasting results. Alleged political patronage of criminals further complicates matters. Until the state seriously addresses Lyari’s issues such as law and order, socio-economic uplift and infrastructure development, criminals will continue to prey on the locality’s people and such atrocities will continue.