Killings in Lyari – The Balochistan Post Investigative Report
At 8pm yesterday, the bustling Lyari life in Ali Mahmad Mohala, Zikri Paara was interrupted with the sheer noise of what sounded like indiscriminate firing. This firing continued for another five hours before at least five people were killed and dozens other were arrested.
Lyari has never been the most peaceful part of the world. The power game between different Pakistani political parties has turned the Baloch populated locality to one of the most dangerous parts in South Asia.
The very first words that come to mind after hearing the word Lyari is its murderous gang wars that have consumed thousands of youth over many decades. There are numerous gangs and gang-leaders, locally called Lalas, that have been killing each other for generations now.
Few of these gangs enjoy impunity after each five years depending on the political party in the government as many of the gangs are proxies of different mainstream political parties. The political organisations use the gangs to carry out their ‘dirty work’.
Last night’s firing initially seemed something of similar nature – a war between rivaling gangs. But, it was not.
The local electronic media rushed to break the news but everyone had a different story to tell regarding the same very incident. Sentences like ‘Militant attack kills Ranger jawaan’, ‘Five terrorists killed in encounter’, ‘Suspects killed in shootout with Rangers’ started populating the news tickers of different TV channels.
The Balochistan Post team realized something was not right in this whole episode. Therefore, TBP team conducted its own investigative report and has some chilling facts to report.
TBP has learnt from reliable local sources that a vehicle of Pakistani rangers came face to face with some people affiliated with a gang. Few reports suggest Ghaffar Zikri, head of a notorious group named after him, was also in the vicinity, however, TBP couldn’t verify this information from independent sources.
Both sides opened fire on each other. This armed altercation resulted in killing a rangers personnel and injuring three others. Nobody from the armed gang was killed or injured at this time. However, a passerby named Chakar Baloch was not as lucky. The developmentally challenged young Chakar Baloch was unable to decipher the difference between a bustling street and one where bullets were whizzing around in thousands. He was killed, brutally. Shot in eyes at pointblank range by Rangers personnel.
Chakar had lost his mental abilities after suffering torture at the hands of Pakistani secret services. He was ‘abducted’ by Pakistani forces three years ago from Kech in Balochistan and was kept in incommunicado detention for some time.
He is one of the five ‘terrorists’ killed yesterday. The Pakistani media has been fiercely reporting him as one of the armed terrorists that killed and injured the Rangers personnel. However, TBP has received multiple videos of mentally disabled Chakar amusing local kids with his innocent acts. After watching these videos and understanding how the local gangs work, there seems no doubts that allegation on Chakar of being a gang member or a criminal are totally baseless.
Chakar Baloch was not the only one killed coldblooded last night. TBP has received information from the family sources of at least two others who were killed last night about them neither being part of armed gangs nor, more importantly, being present at the place of the armed confrontation. In fact, they were missing for many months.
Both these deceased had been picked up by Pakistani Rangers from different areas of Karachi months ago.
One of them was Mehr Ali. He belonged to the unfortunate city of Awaraan in Balochistan, where deadly military operations are routine. Mehr migrated to Karachi some time in past to flee the insecure environment. However, the bad luck followed him to Karachi.
He was arrested by Rangers personnel on 14 November 2016 from Lyari in Karachi and was in Rangers custody since then. There was even a petition filed by his family members in Sindh high court against his disappearance.
The other out of luck person has been identified as Aaamir Ali s/o Ali Baksh. TBP has spoken exclusively to his family members and relatives to get information about the issue.
Aaamir Ali worked with a Local cable TV company. He was arrested by Rangers nine months ago not even from Lyari but from Malir, a different Baloch populated part of Karachi. He was missing since then. His family alleges that Pakistani Rangers asked them multiple times to pay ransom for Aaamir’s release, which they couldn’t.
TBP has also analyzed the pictures of other persons killed in yesterday’s so-called fire fight and it is clear all of them died due to bullets hitting them at very close range. It is highly likely the other two are also previously arrested persons.
Additionally, Pakistani media has been reporting usage of heavy weaponry in the firefight by gang members. However, the pictures shown to the media do not portray any signs of a firefight.
Rangers and Pakistani media claimed that firefight continued for at least five hours. The bodies of the deceased were also produced after five hours of first engagement.
All of these factors confirm an unambiguous picture of a textbook fake encounter.
An analyst talking to TBP said it seems Pakistani Rangers took the revenge of their colleague’s death on unarmed previously arrested Baloch youth. ‘This trend has been observed previously in Balochistan and KPK, and it is highly likely this has been repeated in Karachi,’ said the analyst referring to fake encounters whenever Pakistani security forces come under attack in Balochistan and KPK.
The whole locality has been cordoned off by Pakistani security forces since last night. Scores of youth have been detained by the Rangers and no one has been allowed to enter or exit the area.
Due to the scary sudden events, a woman has also suffered cardiac arrest in the same street and has lost her life.
The disturbing part in this whole sad tale is the extent of impunity the state apparatus enjoys. The events of yesterday and the actions of Pakistani state forces are similar to ones that are committed by dangerous criminals. Killing people in revenge that are under ones custody sound like the trait of a warlord from medieval era. However, seeing such events unfold in a metropolitan city and such actions committed by the very ‘defenders of public’ is shuddering.
Lyari has always been socially marginalized. The once progressive part of Karachi that acted as nursery of Baloch nationalism for many years has been converted into an incubator of crimes due to continuously being ignored.
A Baloch activist talking to TBP expressed that it is high time the Baloch political forces fulfill their responsibilities with regards to Lyari. Infighting in Lyari can only stop if the energy of youth is channeled back to progressive Baloch nationalism. Baloch political forces then have to devise ways to stop an opponent that has whole state machinery behind it but acts as a ‘dangerous criminal’.