Gangs of… Lahore?!
* Police attempting to reconcile warring groups
* Campaign well underway with two enmities already resolved
* DIG Operations says ‘underworld’ also involved in skirmishes
* Says corrupt policemen allow grievances to be avenged
By Shahnawaz Khan
LAHORE: The city’s police department has started a special campaign to attempt to reconcile rival gangs in the provincial capital following special orders from senior government officials.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operations Aamir Zulfiqar Khan said that the campaign had been launched after detailed research, during which it was found that the city’s ‘underworld’ had become a vital part of the constant skirmishes between the gangs. The research unearthed that because of the enmities, the city’s crime rate had also risen considerably, as hundreds of innocent people lost their lives every year over petty issues these gangs had.
The DIG said that all of the city’s rival gangs used unlicensed weapons and robbed and stole to cover their expenditures. He said that the research found that such groups had developed strong relations with corrupt police officers, who offered them legal immunity of sorts.
The DIG said that the campaign had in fact started around four months earlier when on special orders from the chief minister, a property dispute between Sardar Kamil Umar and the Rana Ashraf Group claiming six lives on May 8 was successfully resolved on September 25.
He said that the second success of the campaign had come with the end of a 26-year-long enmity in the village of Jallo, Batapur between the Jatt Group and Mushtaq Butt Group, which had started in 1986 over property and claimed four lives. He said that both groups resented each other and on September 3, 2006, another gunfight broke out between them in which Mushtaq Butt’s son Shehzad Butt alias Shehzada, nephew Ataullah Butt and a 12-year-old bystander Zohaib Jehangir were killed. The police had then intervened and managed to reconcile the warring groups at Badshahi Mosque, he added.
He said that all such groups would be reconciled at Badshahi Mosque from now on, in the presence of the city’s notables. About the murders on Thursday in Hanjerwal over an old enmity between the Astoo Group and the Malik Group, he said that reconciliation between the two groups was being arranged but would be delayed because of the incident. He said that the enmity had started in 1978 between Iftikhar alias Astoo Nambardar and Malik Akram over a horse owned by the Astoo Group. He said that in 1979, Malik Akram’s brother was murdered and a case was registered against people from the Astoo Group. He said that since then, around 70 people had been killed in several armed combats between the two groups.
There was a number of rival groups in the city while out of them small groups are allies of bigger groups and running their enmities from decades. Some big rival groups of the city are as follow:
Tipu Trakkanwala etc versus Khawaja Tareef Gulshan alias Tifi Butt etc: This fierce rivalry began on October 2,1994, when Hanif, alias Hanifa, and Shafique, alias Baba, tried but failed to assassinate their former friend Arif Ameer, alias Tipu. However, two days later, Ameerudin, alias Billa Truckanwala, Tipu’s father, was killed in the courtyard of his goods transport company in Shah Alam Chowk.
Hanifa and Baba formed a powerful gang that included notorious criminals Nawaz Butt, alias Naji Butt, Bohla Suniara, Humayun Gujjar, Ehsan, alias Shana Butt, Waheed, alias Waheedian, Mian Dawood, Sana Gujjar, Kalia, Pinki, Amir Butt, Khalid Chitta, Khalid Nai Wallah and Shahid Lamba. They later merged with the group led by Khawaja Tareef Gulshan, alias Teefi Butt, and Khawaja Shakeel, alias Gogi Butt. Only Wahidian, Pinki, Khalid Chitta, Shahid Lamba and Khalid Naiwala survive of the original gang.
They are believed responsible for another failed assassination attempt on Tipu outside the Evacuee Trust Property Board building in May last year. This time, however, there were five deaths when two men on foot opened fire on a car. Eleven others were injured, including Tipu.
The murder of Zafri Nath and four others in April 2004 is believed to be related to this incident. Tipu, an accused in the case, claims he was only nominated so he would give in to pressure from Goggi Butt and Teefi Butt to drop his complaint against them in the Evacuee Board case. Zafri Nath himself was part of a gang with Kaloo Shah Puria that had a rivalry with Malik Nisar Khokhar. Puria and Khokhar were relatives, but split in a dispute over property. The feud has been particularly expensive for the Nisar family, which has only one surviving male. Zafri Nath was also the son of Noori Nath, a famous gangster and subject of the hit Punjabi film Maula Jatt.
Gangs of Gowalmandi: The rivalry between Chaudhry Maqsood, alias Sooda, and Amjad Gujjar has cost at least eighteen lives in the past few years. The two were once class fellows and friends, but politics drove them apart.
The bad blood started in 1989 when Mian Shahbaz Sharif, former Punjab chief minister, inaugurate Maqsood’s Muslim League election office and Jehangir Bader, former federal minister, inaugurated Amjad’s People’s Party election office. The offices were situated opposite each other in Bagwan Bazaar in Gowalmandi.
A few days later, some PML workers killed Amjad following a scuffle that began over politics. Afzal, Amjad’s brother, started pursuing the murder case. Maqsood’s group reportedly planted a heroine smuggling case on Afzal. He was arrested and incarcerated and died in prison, allegedly of poisoning by an agent sent by Maqsood.
Heera, another of Amjad’s brother, killed Muhammad Arif, one of Maqsood’s friends, in retaliation in 1992. Heera also later killed Maqsood in Gowalmandi Bazaar, Maqsood’s younger brother and another friend, Muhammad Talib, with a gang that included Haji Goga, Labha Gujjar and Billa Gujjar.
Maqsood’s group took revenge by killing Mushtaqi, Heera’s nephew. Naseerullah Kata of Maqsood’s group was next to die in the full-blown gang war.
Heera, Labha Gujjar and Haji Goga were arrested and were killed in a shootout with police. Heera’s supporters alleged the encounter was stage-managed by the then Gowalmandi station house officer, Mian Saqib. Two other members of Maqsood’s group were killed in Shadbagh a couple of years ago.
Kashmiri and sons: Noora Kashmiri was once the bodyguard of former Punjab Assembly member Sheikh Muhammad Asghar, but later switched allegiance to his rival Mian Miraj Din, alias Maja Sikh, and was one of his eventual assassins.
Kashmiri and his cousin Bheela Butt had killed Muhammad Arif, Maja Sikh’s son, several years ago. However, Kashmiri and his cousin joined the Maja Sikh group and took part in the assassination of Asghar. Asghar’s group retaliated with the murder of Bashir alias Bashira Mochal of Maja Sikh’s group. Sikh’s gang then killed Muhammad Abbas, alias Basso, and Muneer, alias Meero, in the Basin area.
Bashi Bhutta of the Asghar group retaliated by shooting Kashmiri, Bheela Butt and Maja Sikh, but all three survived. Bhutta did not. A few days later, he and his two brothers were gunned down. Akhtar Khan filed a complaint to the police. He was killed by one of Kashmiri’s 13 sons, Moazzam, in the Lahore High Court.
There were then a series of clashes between police and the Sikh gang. Baghbanpura police arrested Kashimiri in 1989, but Moazzam and his accomplices freed him with a daring attack on the police station he was locked up in.
A few days later, police arrested Bahawal, alias Gonga, a member of the Maja Sikh group, and raided several of the gang’s hideouts Bhawal led them to. One such raid led to an encounter in which Bhawal was killed, three of his gang colleagues were injured and Saabi, another son of Kashmiri’s, was arrested.
Noora Kashmiri then got involved in another gangland rivalry, peppering Babar Butt’s house in Lakho Dehr with bullets. One of them injured Babar’s mother. Babar got his revenge by killing Kashmiri. His cousin and long-time associate Bheela Butt died a few years later of natural causes.
Babar Butt alias Lakhodairwala and his bodyguards were recently nominated accused in the murder of a cyclist in front of the Civil Secretariat. They claimed a rival gang had shot at them and they returned fire, accidentally hitting the cyclist.
However, the Kashmiri family’s involvement in crime continued. A relative of Kashmiri’s, Mohsin Butt, was killed in a minor dispute by brothers Haroon and Humayun in 1998. The brothers were arrested and locked up in Bhagbanpura police station, where Kashmiri’s sons killed them.
Kashmiri’s son Azam, and associates Khadim Hussain and Imtiaz alias Bhanee were killed in a police encounter. Another member of the family, Shaqoo Butt, was killed by the Mayo gang of Bhaseen Pind. His killing was avenged by Shafqat Butt, alias Bagg, and Mujahid, alias Mujahidi, who killed Mangle Mayo and his son. They were arrested but later released.
Gujjar clan war: This enmity began eight years ago when Chaudhry Rehmat Ali Gujjar, alias Sukkur Rang Mehal Wallah, and his brother Ashiq Gujjar murdered Ilyas Gujjar, alias Toni Gujjar. They too were once close friends.
Toni’s brother Afzal filed a complaint to Badami Bagh police against Rehmat. A few months later, he and his friend Riaz Gujjar were murdered on their way to court on the Old Ravi Bridge. Jaffer Gujjar, Rehmat Ali and Kaka of Ashiq’s party are on death row for that murder.
Toni’s brother Mehdi Hussain Gujjar and nephew Yaseen Gujjar later murdered Ashiq, his brother Haji Shaukat Gujjar, his nephew Haji Abid Gujjar and uncle Haji Muhammad Siddique Gujjar on July 18, 2000, near Aiwan-e-Adal. Ashiq’s ally Ilyas later died in jail. The two groups reconciled in July last year after mediation from a senior police officer.