KARACHI: Sanitary workers from Christian and Hindu communities forced to vacate their houses – the Asian Human Rights Commission states.
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), stated in a report that sanitary workers from Christian and Hindu communities in the economic hub of Pakistan-Karachi were forcefully driven out of their quarters, as drug vendors attacked their homes and abducted their children.
A copy of the Asian Human Rights Commission’s statement is presented below:
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a century old settlement of sanitary workers from the Christian and Hindu communities were forced to vacate after the rape, abduction and attacks on the houses by drug peddlers with the connivance of police and Pakistan Rangers. The community known as ‘Slaughter House Quarter’ in an old area of Karachi has been occupied by the police informers and gangs who are fighting to control the area. To force the Christians to leave their homes three Christians were killed and many women including a young girl were gang raped. Frequently and without warning the criminals broke through the compound walls and opened fire on the inhabitants which resulted in injuries to several children. The victims of rape and assault complained to the police and Rangers but their reply was to leave the place and settle elsewhere.
The families have left the place of their ancestors and as a result lost their jobs. They were even not able to collect items of daily usage.
The information has been collected from the victims and activists, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the Daily Dawn and the Daily Express Tribune.
The ‘Slaughter House Quarters’ was established in 1916 by the colonial rulers for the sanitary workers of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC). Around 90 percent of the inhabitants were Christians and 10 percent were Hindus. The habitants were paying a rent of Rs. 450/= per month for their individual houses to the KMC. The current inhabitants are the fifth generation of people to settle in the slaughter house quarters but are being forced to vacate their homes and are compelled to leave the city or their community to settle elsewhere. Hardly five to seven houses are left there but only elder male persons can go in the night to live.
The Lyari area was considered a place of secular and democratic thought and the democratic movements originated from there. During the military government of General Musharraf, the Lyari area was systematically changed into drug dens of different peddlers and criminal groups with the assistance of state intelligence agencies and the police with the patronage of local politicians. The previous civilian government has also continued with the policies of military rulers to change the democratic colour of the area by patronizing some militant groups. The residents have suffered from threats and extortion since 2008.
The situation became worse when on October 26, 2013, a group of armed men entered the compound and started indiscriminate firing after locking the exit gates which resulted the killing of three children and two activists from the Christian community, Yousuf Iqbal alias Joja and Younis Inayat; many men and women were injured. The attackers demanded that the inhabitants join their fight otherwise they will burn the whole area. The Pakistan Rangers were stationed outside the compound walls but refused to interfere as they did not have the permission from their higher authorities.
Before this incident, on August 13, a Christian activist, Victor William Bhutta, was killed near to the Slaughter House Quarters for raising the voice against hooliganism. The local police refused to file the FIR against the leaders of gangs but instead filed an FIR against unknown assailants.
On November 4, the armed men again attacked the Christian houses and forced 500 persons to vacate their houses. A former elected councilor and prominent social worker, Mr. Bernard Peter, and a Hindu social worker, Mr. Mohan Das, were harassed and threatened with death for collecting data about the losses and uniting the community to remain in the locality.
Mr. Bernard Peter filed an application on December 10 to the Director General of the Pakistan Rangers about the attacks on minority people and incidents of rape of young women, threats, intimidation, extortion and the cordoning off of the quarters. On December 12, Peter’s 26 year old sister was abducted by the gangsters, Shahid Rehman and Shakeel Commando groups and beaten to inform the whereabouts of her brother. When she refused she was gang raped. There are reports of half a dozen young women being raped by the members of the gang.
When Peter’s family members tried to file an FIR of gang rape the police asked to produce Miss “R” who was living out of the city. She was called but police again refused to file FIR and asked her to get verification from the hospital. When it was provided the police said they could not file case against the nominated persons but only against unknown persons.
The 720 families left the quarters and are living in different localities of Karachi and other parts of the Sindh province. They have lost their jobs and their houses and the Sindh government is not taking any action to provide them with relief. Rather the high police officials have only suggested that they comply with the gangsters so that they can earn a living. The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Lyari, Mr. Shah Nawaz, told Daily Express that police were giving the gang rape victim, ‘R’, and her family protection and also looking in to the allegations. He further said “we will even conduct a raid if we have to”. But still police have not made any progress to rehabilitate the displaced person to their original place which is in total control of the gangsters.
Please write the letters to the given authorities calling them to stop the victimization of religious minority groups and restore their right to be Pakistani citizens. Please urge them to rehabilitate the 720 families to their houses at ‘Slaughter House Quarters’ Lyari, Karachi, arrest the rapists and killers who are well known to police and Rangers, the police and Rangers high officials must be prosecuted for abetting the gangsters to occupy the century old settlement of sanitary workers, gang rape and killings.
The AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues calling for her intervention into this matter of forced displacement.