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Lyari IDPs: Patrons of gang warfare pushed us out

Published Jul 12, 2013 09:30pm
A view of the refugee camp near the Shah Guryo shrine. — Photos by author.
A view of the refugee camp near the Shah Guryo shrine. — Photos by author.
A view of the refugee camp near the Shah Guryo shrine. — Photos by author.
A view of the refugee camp near the Shah Guryo shrine. — Photos by author.

First Swat, then Bajaur and Khyber and now Karachi's Lyari – Internally displaced peoples (IDPs) from the violence-stricken area i have taken refuge in Badin, in miserable conditions, under the open sky.

Hundreds of people who are currently living near the shrine of Sufi Saint Shah Guryo, have horrifying stories to tell – but are avoiding appearing in front of a camera for fear of being identified by those, they say, have forced them to leave their homes.

According to one estimate, more than three thousand people alone have sought refuge in Badin and Thatta districts. Others have sought ‘asylum’ with relatives in Tando bago, Talhar, Badin, Golarchi, Pangrio, Matli and other areas.

Those who have fled from Karachi, however, feel completely abandoned. Saima Mandhro, a graduate from Agra Taj Colony in Lyari currently living at Shah Guryo with her family tells Dawn.com that when Badin was hit by floods in 2011, she had taken part in collecting relief items from her locality for the submerged district’s flooded areas as well as other areas of lower Sindh. “But my family has been here for the last eight days with no assistance from anybody,” she says with tears in her eyes.

Government complacency, meanwhile, seems rampant. Badin Deputy Commissioner Rafiq Quraishi was unavailable for comment, but told a private television channel that only 238 people had arrived in Badin. On visiting the camp near the shrine however, it was obvious there were at least five hundred IDPs taking shelter there alone.

Rehmat Mandhro, an aged IDP living in the same camp had a similar tale of misery to tell. Two years back, she lost her eldest son, the only breadwinner in the family, to violence in Lyari. Now, just a few days back, she lost her house in Al Falah Colony.

She held Sindh government officials responsible for what she said was her forced eviction. Most of the elderly and children have fallen sick because of drinking contaminated water and living in the open in the summer’s unrelenting heat.

Ashia Bai, another IDP who was praying in the shrine, says that it was a misunderstanding to believe the current chaos in Lyari is a result of infighting between the Baloch and Kutchis living there – she accused the patrons of gang warfare for their displacement.

Another IDP, Mohammad Haroon Mandhro, says that he was on his way back to Karachi from Badin after five days of living there – only to find out his house had been ransacked and plundered by gangsters. “Now we have neither homes, nor a proper source of shelter, nor any source to earn a livelihood for our families,” he explains, while urging civil activists to take notice of the matter

The refugees have no clue as to when, and if, they can ever return to their home. In the meanwhile, they’re desperately seeking food and medicine, and traveling four kilometers for access to clean drinking water.