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Residents flee to safer areas

June 11, 2013

KARACHI, June 10: Violence that broke out in Lyari on Saturday further escalated on Monday amid the absence of law-enforcement agencies and effective move by the security administration to ensure lasting peace for the inhabitants who in some cases preferred to leave their neighbourhood for safer places.

Life remained paralysed on a third consecutive day in most parts of the old city areas where people stayed indoors amid off and on hand-grenade attacks that sowed fear in the densely-populated locality. “We heard at least sound of three powerful explosions within the span of a few hours,” said a resident of Ali Manzil, one of several affected areas.

“Business remained closed, people stayed indoors and it’s the third consecutive day in the scorching heat that resident are forced to live in this condition.”

A large number of families in Chakiwara, Bihar Colony, Juna Masjid, Rahimabad, Mandra Muhallah, New Kalri, Agra Taj Colony and Hangorabad were seen fleeing to safer places.

Officials confirmed to Dawn that at least four hand grenade attacks were carried out on Monday in different parts of Lyari though no major casualty was reported.

In the evening, a large number of people from the Kutchhi community took to the roads against the violence. They marched towards the CM House and Governor’s House to stage protest demonstration, but failed to reach there. They later staged a demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club.

“We were compelled to do this (protest) and it’s the only peaceful option we have,” said a spokesman for the Katchhi Rabta Committee (KRC), which organised the protest rally.

He alleged that the Sindh government was backing a certain criminal group in Lyari that led to this situation. “They want us to talk with them but cannot explain how one can talk to criminals and then expect peace.”

He warned the protests would spread to other parts of the city if the government failed to come up with effective measures to deal with the situation.

In some areas, families failed to leave their homes fearing that gangsters would occupy them in their absence, he said.

“So it’s not on us, it’s up to the government that how would they take up this mess. We demand operation across the old city area under a curfew but we cannot expect peace through dialogue with criminals,” added the KRC spokesman.

However, the authorities sounded more convinced that a ‘dialogue’ between the two communities was the only way out. Most area residents believed the conflict was between two politically-backed groups and not between the two ethnic communities of Kutchhi and Baloch.

“Among other measures and proactive policing with more deployment of forces, we have initiated a dialogue process between the two communities (Baloch and Kutchhi),” said DIG (south) Dr Amir Sheikh. “The deputy commissioner south has been tasked with this dialogue process and we believe it will help defusing the tension.”