These Muslims are known as Balochi, Gujarati or Kutchi Muslims.
PAC-controlled criminal gangs killed over 200 Kutchi Muslims in past 2 years, including 11 last week.
Prosperity and peace come for a cost at times. Kutchi Muslims in Lyari, Pakistan, are under threat. Over the past two years, nearly 200 members of the community have lost their lives, including 11 last week, in attacks by local criminal gangs, controlled by the Peoples’ Aman Committee (PAC).
Kutchi Muslims alleged that PAC, despite being banned by the government in 2011, still gets the support and shelter of the local administration.
Local gangsters and militias have been attacking the homes and businesses of Kutchis in the area with rocket launchers, automatic rifles and hand grenades. “The local police or the provincial government of Sindh does not have any control over these goons. We believe the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) gives shelter to them,” Kutchi Rabta Committee (KRC) president Hussain Kutchi told dna.
“While you are asking me questions about our fate, I have received information that just two blocks from the KRC office, a 23-year-old woman has been killed in a firing by unidentified men. Two others have suffered bullet injuries. The situation is very bad as there is complete anarchy here,” Hussain said.
Lyari — one of the 18 constituent towns of Karachi — is a battleground for supremacy. Goons want to control the economy which is controlled by Kutchi Muslims at present. Out of the total population of 15 lakh in the town, 60 per cent are Muslims, having their roots in Kutch.
“We were a minority in the town before Independence. The Baniya community was in a majority. As they migrated to India during Partition and our people came from that side, we are now in a majority,” said Hussain Kutchi.
Karachi is home to some 35 lakh Muslims, who either have roots or connection with India. These Muslims are known as Balochi, Gujarati or Kutchi Muslims. KRC is the organisation which works for the Kutchi and Gujarati Muslim communities in the area.
In 2012, its leader Abdul Rasheed and his four associates were killed in a firing. But his assailants are yet to be arrested.
Kutchi Muslims in this town are well-to-do and they work hard for their survival. “Our main businesses comprise fishing and port management services. We are also involved in construction and transportation businesses,” said Hussain.
The situation was not always bad for the people of Lyari. There were local goons but they operated on a smaller scale. Each gang had its own area and there was hardly one attack a year on the migrants. But, the scenario changed in 2009.
Till 2009, a host of gangs used to operate in Lyari and other towns. Each gang was engaged in robbery, extortion, kidnapping and demanding ransom. Scores of people died in the ensuing gang rivalry.
But, in 2009, these gangs decided to put an end to all hostilities and give a call for peace.
“The new umbrella organisation was named Peoples’ Aman Committee (PAC) under the leadership of Abdur Rehman, the biggest don amongst them. The PAC started harassing innocent people of Lyari and Kutchi Muslims became their prime target,” Hussain added.