Day 6 of the Lyari operation raged on, with fierce exchanges of bullets between the police force and the ‘gangsters’. Probably fed up of the situation, some of the residents tried to pretend things were not as bad as they seemed, and they continued some routines of life like sending their children to study.
According to a news report (Violence takes its toll on Lyari’s children by Ammar Shahbazi – The News May 7) on May 2, as the battle in the area continued, 9 year old Hammad and his seven year old brother Habibullah were returning from the madrassa where they went to study the Quran – Hammad was a Hafiz-e-Quran – when they being children and therefore oblivious of the gravity of the situation in the area, curiously stopped to watch a ‘group of women protestors chanting slogans against the police’. The children didn’t see the metallic monster growling up the road trying to gobble up everything in its path. As firing spouted out of the APC the protestors dispersed to find safety. The nine year old Hammad was knocked down in the rush and was probably too stunned to move as the APC moved towards him, crushing him under its wheels.
This is an intensely gruesome story to read in print, I am getting goose bumps and teary eyed being a mother of a child as old as Hammad. I shudder to think what those who had witnesses this horrifying image must have, and probably are still, going through.
Hammad’s younger brother, seven year old Habibullah will forever be haunted by his brother’s death and probably will grow up with many psychological scars if he is not tended to now and helped to cope with this extremely traumatic experience.
Losing a loved one, especially a sibling at a tender age is traumatic enough, but the circumstances under which this happened will have deeper repercussions. The parents, especially the mother, will go through hell – losing a child as well as coping with one who has gone through hell – in only coping with the loss and grief of this whole episodes. Hammad will become a memento for the protestors and probably for the Baloch people; several are lamenting and asking why the child’s death went unnoticed by the Pakistani media and claiming that this was because the child belonged to Lyari and was a Baloch.
True he was a Baloch and a resident of Lyari, but his death is not unnoticed. He will be mourned by all those who can still feel for others across all boundaries – national, ethnic, religious etc. People who value human life and believe that everyone has right to life will mourn the death of Hammad and others like him. We will mourn Hammad as child, an innocent, a human being. A child who became a victim to circumstances, who was killed before he even embarked on the journey of life.
Let’s mourn of a ‘Baloch’ child’s death as that of our own for he was one of our own. Let’s not restrict his short life by restricting prayers being offered for him to only the people of Lyari and the Baloch. Let’s celebrate his short life amidst his loved ones so that it doesn’t go to waste. Yes Hammad will be remembered by the people of Lyari and maybe a memento put where this innocent fell. But allow us, those who don’t live in Lyari or do not belong to the Baloch race to pay homage to the child. And let us use his young death as an omen to end violence and bloodletting in Lyari, and other parts of the country as well.