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One killed, five hurt in Lyari violence ahead of IDPs return

Updated August 25, 2013

KARACHI, Aug 24: A young man was killed and some half a dozen people were wounded as violence returned to the Lyari area on Saturday ahead of the planned return of those Kutchhi families who had migrated to Badin and Thatta districts from the strife-torn locality more than a month ago, police and community members said.

Lyari’s areas Bihar Colony, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai Road and Kalri reverberated with heavy gunfire followed by grenade attacks.

An official at the Civil Hospital Karachi confirmed that the health facility had received at least five people with gunshot wounds from the strife-hit areas.

“The body of a man with bullet wounds was also brought from Lyari in the evening,” said an official at the medico-legal section of the civil hospital. “He appears to be in his late-20s…his identity could not be ascertained immediately.”

While business and commercial activities came to a halt and transport disappeared from roads, people of Lyari preferred to stay indoors as the law-enforcement agencies took no significant move to challenge armed men who apparently took control of Lyari.

Authorities, however, believed that among other reasons the fresh episode of violence could be a move against the return of those Kutchhi families who had left their homes more than a month ago for Badin and Thatta districts.

“It can be a pre-emptive move from them [armed groups] as Kutchhis are returning home,” Karachi police chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo told Dawn. “Similarly, during the past few days there have been multiple killings of some criminal elements due to infighting that also aggravated the situation. But we are making every possible move to secure Kutchhi families and make sure their safe return and resettlement in their own homes.”

Kutchhi families returning today

Kutchhi families who migrated to Badin after a breakdown of law and order in Lyari are on their way back to Karachi, a community member informed Dawn.

While returning from a protest demonstration outside the Badin Press Club, general secretary of the Kutchhi Rabita Committee (KRC) Akhter Kutchhi told Dawn over the telephone that the people were tired of staying at the shrine of Shah Ghoro.

“Children are contracting skin diseases. Also, there are no proper living arrangements for them. We’ve decided it’s better to be killed in our homes than dying at a strange place,” he said.

Around 450 families had moved to Badin in the beginning of July after a fight between gangs broke out in Mandhra Mohalla and Agra Taj Colony and continued for days, the area people said.

A rehabilitation committee constituted by the Sindh government on July 8 registered around 450 people who had migrated to Badin and 150 others who migrated to Bhambhore.

But many people kept coming back to the city for work and many of them stayed back. For some, recent rains in Thatta and Badin made it difficult to prolong their stay in tents pitched in an open area.

A majority of the migrating people stayed in a town, Peeru Lashari, where the Shah Ghoro shrine is situated.

Now that the families are moving back, the KRC general secretary said they would make a few stops on their way.

“We’re on our way to Bhambore today. After an overnight stay there, we will leave for Karachi tomorrow morning and will stop in the Malir and the Karachi Press Club to register our protests before entering Lyari. We are holding protests against the government’s inaction and apathy towards our community,” said Mr Kutchhi. According to him, a number of nationalist groups, including the Jeay Sindh Mahaz, Sindh Taraqqi-pasand Party and Shah Latif Foundation, have extended support to the community and will be accompanying them on their way back home.