The young criminals of underprivileged Karachi

Published: May 24, 2013
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As soon as they join gangs, they are bribed with "security" and given guns or money. PHOTO: REUTERS

It has been seven years since I’ve been running an educational institute for women and children in Baldia Town, Karachi. I’ve studied the people carefully and my basic aim is to spread general awareness amongst the underprivileged residents of this area.

During my experience, I learnt that the rate of crime in most of these areas is higher as compared to the rest of Karachi. Many young boys, ranging in age from 12 to 18 years, are trained to leak secret information that could be helpful in executing crimes. These boys usually drop out of school after the eighth standard, and indulge in crimes such as mobile phone snatching, extortion, target killing and other dangerous activities.

I have many male students in my institute and I can see them changing a lot as soon as they turn twelve. They begin copying Bollywood actors who play the ‘bad guy’ in movies and they start eating gutka and paan, smoking cigarettes and doing drugs.

Coming from underprivileged families, these boys cannot afford drugs and therefore resort to committing crime to able to bear the expense. Then, one bad apple spreads rot to the entire community.

Their inspirations is usually notorious criminals wanted by the police. Glistening prospects of making money and becoming rich overnight without ever having to go to school attract these young minds. They admire goons and extortionists who go to the market and take whatever they like for free by threatening to kill people.

Recently, a gang from this area called “Gang War” threatened a cornerstore owner and demanded money. They put a gun on the man’s head when he refused to give them any. Luckily, the shopkeeper also had a gun under the counter. As soon he took it out, the gangsters fled. The police was able to find just one of them after the shopkeeper gave his testimony as an eyewitness; the rest are still at large.

Rightfully fearing for his life, the shopkeeper wrapped up his entire business, closed down his shop and moved somewhere else.

These gangsters often terrorize people by demanding large sums of money from owners of small businesses by sending them what is called a “perchi” (chit) or “token”. The deliverers of these perchis are teenage boys who have just joined the gang. They are either paid for doing this or given a pistol – indicating complete security as they are now part of the gang.

My own uncle is a victim of extortionists. He is a mechanic and lives in Ittehad Town. He earns a mere three to four hundred rupees a day and lives in a small rented house.

Every day on his way home, he encounters young goons who snatch money from him. Sadly, for my uncle there is no way out as there is only one route that leads from his shop to his house. Thus, everyday, he suffers silently.

There is much to be done about this nation’s underprivileged youth to prevent them from getting involved in crime.

We need many more volunteers to step forward and introduce long-term educational projects if there is any hope for our underprivileged youth.

If we let this go on, over half of the Pakistani youth may become professional killers and criminals in the future; if that is something you don’t even want to imagine, it is time get up and do something about it!

maria.taqdees

Maria Taqdees

A resident of Baldia Town and is running an institute called, YES Alumni Community Learning Centre.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.