By: Shaikh Abdul Rasheed
Shockingly, the spate of the heart-rending and bloody tribal clashes among various tribes has occurred in Sindh, claiming several lives and property. The most recent deadly tribal feud took place between the two rival clans of Saad Khanani Jatoi and Badani Jatoi on Monday July 03, at Shikarpur district in interior Sindh, in which 16 persons including two women and one minor girl were killed and more than a dozen people injured. The area turned into battle field after both the groups used Rocket launchers and automatic weapons freely while police failed to enter the area to control the situation. The hostility between the two groups had broken out some years ago when police killed two criminals belonging to Saad Khanani group and afflicted clan accused the Badani group of sharing information with the police. In a cycle of fatal clashes between the groups around 35 lives have yet been cut in short.
Initiated on petty matters, the deadly tribal disputes mostly taking place in interior Sindh last for many years and swallow huge number of lives of innocent people of the disputant tribes. Mostly in tribal clashes cases are not registered at police stations by the affected families for killings of their relatives because they consider it their dishonour, weakness and cowardice. In the unleashed race of assassination in vengeance for assassination, each warring party tries to equalize the number of casualties. Meanwhile, the role of police is to take away dead bodies from the crime spots for post-mortem and to register cases themselves. In the most cases as police fail to enter the areas, therefore females bring corpses of their murdered male relatives to hospitals for post-mortem and the hospital authorities inform and call police to accomplish legal formalities. The police being powerless before the warring clans and their powerful chieftains mostly avoid intervening in the feuds. In this way, cases of tribal clashes are not brought to courts. However, courts will not able to conduct the cases anyway because there are so many legal complications in these cases. In most precedents, there is a lack of identification of assassins, evidences and witnesses. Therefore, these bloody clashes are settled in jirgas but unfortunately, they fail to provide victims with justice and the feuds break out repeatedly.
A study conducted by a local NGO, Bhittai Social Welfare Association in upper Sindh’s eight districts on the “Impact of tribal conflicts on economic, social and cultural life in upper Sindh” revealed that tribal clashes caused closure of schools and health facilities, and huge displacement of people. The report shows further that during three years from 2010 to 2012 the feuds claimed lives of 772 persons including 35 women and 03 children and caused injuries to 548 including 42 women and 06 children
The fact is that education is badly affected in the areas of tribal feuds because during the clashes the regions under the influence of both the tribes are made no-go areas not only for the people of each warring tribe but also for police and outsiders. Normal activities in those areas remain suspended due to insecurity and uncertainty. Meanwhile, teachers do not attend their duties and schools remain closed because of the precarious law and order situation in these war-torn regions. Hence, children miss out on the opportunity to get education. Regrettably, the overall literacy rate in the affected villages is very low. Sindh education department reported in 2008 that it is the children of the disputing clans who are the most sufferers because they are not allowed to attend schools and thus grow up as educated adults. As a result, these war-torn regions of upper Sindh have the lowest literacy rate in the province.
The same way, there is startling condition of health-care system as most of the basic health units and rural health units remain closed in conflict zones. It is the women who have to face health issues especially reproductive ones because of the hard restrictions imposed on their movements. Moreover, polio campaigns are affected adversely. Last year two polio cases were reported from the same area of Shikarpur where this bloody clash occurred on Monday.
In Sindh, the clashes made on inconsequential matters take a colossal number of lives and damage huge property. Once a dispute is initiated, no member of the warring clan can move freely to look after his crops or carry on his job or business at another village, town or city due to the fear of getting killed by the opponents. Ironically, in tribal feuds people of the groups involved in clash are killed indiscriminately, regardless of whether they are involved in any murder or not. As a result the weak and the peaceful are the most affected people in these disputes, because they are murdered by their opponents in retaliation to murders of their tribesmen. The situation further results in financial constrains for members of fighting clans that compels them to become criminals and outlaws to further deteriorate peace by committing crimes including murders, thefts, robbery, kidnapping for ransom, and bike snatching etc to feed their hungry family members. In this way, they mar the law and order situation of the whole region. In some cases, members of warring tribes have become notorious dacoits, maintaining strong links with the world of crime.
Chotu gang, comprising of approximately 200 members, that killed seven policemen, injured 18 and took 25 hostages when security forces tried to enter a forest in an Island in Indus River area between Rajanpur and Rahim Yar Khan districts in Southern Punjab bordering the district KandhKot, Sindh last year. Regrettably, the ringleader Ghulam Rasool Mazari alias Chotu and all of the gang members, who belonged to various tribes were the product of feudal clashes. Not only were this but countless such gangs were the creation of the quarrels.
Viewing this gruesome state of affairs, the Sindh government has to shoulder responsibility to control the worsening law and order situation in order to provide masses with a peaceful environment, playing significant role in settling years-old deadly disputes among various tribes in interior Sindh. It will be better for the government to get services of the retired judges to have vast experience of making honest, judicious and impartial judgments’ to hear and decide the cases of the clashes, providing the commensurate and quick justice to the victims of the disputes.