Pakistan: Ordeal of Christians and Hindus forced out of violent slum in Karachi far from over

Residents blame Rangers [police] for failing to protect them from gangsters in Lyari

Rubina remembers October 26 of this year as a nightmare. Her husband, Yousuf, got hit in the head. Her children in school were terrified. As the area in Lyari reverberated with heavy gunfire, she and the others fled through a safer passage, empty-handed.

“Today is no less than hell. I am a widow with four children to feed,” she cried. “We live at one relative’s house for a few days. Then we move to another’s. We eat what we get. We sleep where we can.”

The agony of the 600 Christian and Hindu families who were forced to evict Old Slaughter House in Lyari last October is far from over.

“Gangsters have made life miserable for us. We are scared for our lives if we think of going back home. Criminals are storing weapons in our house,” complained another displaced person, Peter Bernard, the former councillor of the area. The assistant engineer has not been able to go to work nor his children to school.

Since the attack in which two men of the minority communities were killed, families like Peter’s have been seeking shelter at homes of their friends and relatives, in Ittehad Town, Essa Nagri, Korangi, Mehmoodabad and other places.

Women living in other parts of Lyari, who were also victimised by gangsters, have also been forced to leave homes. Peter’s own sister, R*, was gang-raped by five men, a few days ago. “They took me away for two and half hours to their torture cell. They wanted to kill me but I escaped,” she said clutching her son, staring at the floor.

Calling the displacement of the minorities a serious human rights issue, the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Zohra Yusuf, demanded the government resettle the affected persons. “We had written letters to the government and asked them to rehabilitate the people,” said Yusuf at a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Thursday. “We have also demanded security but have gotten no positive response so far.” Yusuf said that they were monitoring the situation in Lyari, as a family who went back was found dead.