Scarred children returning to school in Lyari



By Sidrah Roghay

Beating her chest, a woman screams at the top of her lungs, “Lyari will never be the same again.” Eight days of bloodshed have left deep scars that will be remembered for generations, residents say, as the area limps back to life after the police operation to flush out criminals from the area was called off.

Also slowly getting back on its feet is education. Due to the armed clashes between the police and gangsters in Lyari, at least 25,000 students were deprived of education as several primary and secondary schools remained closed. This estimate, made by an official of the education department, does not include a number of private schools of the area.

However, images of violence may continue to haunt the students as they return to school. “Our children are paralysed with fear. They do not step outside their houses. Some of them even fainted as they saw bullets penetrating human flesh,” said Sajid Hussain, a teacher at the Prime House School.

During the operation, eleven-year-old Ali opted to stay home as he “does not want to die.” “I want to grow old and get married,” he said, while pointing out that those who dared to step out fell victim to the crossfire.

Similarly, twelve-year-old Irsa remained home and “prayed to God to stop the operation.” Sitting at the house of the boy who came under the “Chain Wali Gadi”, the girl expressed her disgust over the violence. “I hate this,” she added as an afterthought.

“Lyari’s children cursed Chaudhry Aslam on their prayer mats. Does he not have any children?” asked an elderly woman whose 14-year-old grandson, Abdur Rehman, was shot in the leg. “The bullet pierced his bone and created a hole,” she said, while lifting her own shalwar to the knee and pointing to the spot where her grandson was shot.

Children of the area still shudder when they think of the “Chain Wali Gadi”, a name given to the armoured personnel carrier that crushed a child similar to their age. “It is a ploy to bomb Lyari back to the Stone Age, so that our children can not compete with the mainstream. If they are deprived of education, they will resort to drugs and weapons,” says an old man in his sixties.

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