KARACHI - The long-drawn-out gang war in Lyari Town has forced scores of families to migrate to coastal areas of Sindh province and many others to take refuge in other constituent towns in Karachi, it has been learnt.
According to reports, at least 30,000 people have migrated from strife-hit Lyari to coastal areas of Badin and Thatta districts. These people, who were residing in Old and New Kalri, Agra Taj Colony, Bihar Colony, Hanif Manzil, and Khayam Bakery areas of Lyari, mostly belonged to Soomra, Hangora, Adeja, Mandra, Bhatti and Memon communities. Some of these families told newsmen they were targeted by their ethnic rivals and that they had no option but to migrate.
Experts however say the process of migration may put an extra burden on insufficient resources of the rural districts.
Besides, some 38 families (nearly 500 people) have been taking refuge in a private school in Baldia Town hoping things would get better and they would return to their houses.
“It is safe to stay here than go back. We cannot go back until everything is back to normal,” say elderly members of some of these families.
Talking to reporters, the affected families said it has been nothing less than a war raging in their areas for several months, however, during past few days miscreants had gone the extra mile and looted and vandalised their homes.
They demanded that the law enforcement agencies cleanse the area of miscreants, so that they could return their homes.
They also appealed to Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of the situation, and demanded authorities purge Lyari of gangsters and miscreants so that they could return to their homes.
“Scores of our men, women and children have been killed by gangsters, who are using all kinds of weapons against us while we are being evicted from our homes,” cried Amina Suleman holding a picture of her slain son.
She said hundreds of families had migrated from the area after their loved ones were either killed or injured, adding that their homes were looted by the criminals.
Police have yet to make any significant arrests following the week-long pitched gunbattle between Katchi Rabita Committee and Lyari gangsters.
People remain stranded at their houses and dare not venture out for fear of getting kidnapped or killed as they have lost faith in law enforcement agencies who they say “patrol just for a formality or have struggled to step up their presence in restive parts” of Lyari.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement meanwhile deplored criminal elements had forced people of old City areas to migrate to other parts of the province.
Party’s deputy convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui claimed many groups were operating in Karachi and damaging the real image of MQM by using its name for their unlawful activities. He directed party workers to keep an eye on such elements and those collecting zakat and fitra using MQM’s name.
He said through a conspiracy his party had been forced to limit its activities.
Siddiqui, who was addressing an MQM workers’ convention at Lal Qilla ground in Azizabad area, said MQM had been working for humanity for a long time. Participation of MQM workers and volunteers in relief activities for flood-hit people was evidence of its humanitarian services, he added.
He said MQM was based on principle of discipline but a conspiracy had been hatched against party chief Altaf Hussain to undermine MQM’s mandate of urban parts of Sindh. MQM would defeats such acts with unity, he added.
Siddiqui said MQM’s welfare organization Khidmat-e-Khalq Federation would raise charity by taking zakat and fitra from the people in a mannered way without forcing citizens in the holy month of Ramazan.
Earlier, MQM decided to take a legal action against those newspapers and private televisions for levelling baseless and unfounded allegation against party and its chief Altaf Hussain in various editions and talk shows.
PAC leader Zafar Baloch had alleged that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-backed terrorists along with the gang of Ghaffar Zikri and Arshad Pappu remnants were causing the bloodshed in Lyari.
“How is it possible that a large number of armed gangsters cannot take over a small portion of Lyari where only unarmed persons live,” he questioned while responding to reports that Lyari-based gangsters wanted to take over Katchi neighbourhoods.
Baloch said over 200 families of both Katchi and Baloch communities had migrated from Al-Falah Road, Mandra Mohallah and the surrounding areas due to uncontrollable violence.