Is Sea View a dangerous place?

Published: November 19, 2014
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PHOTO: AFP

Relieved to finally be done with our university exams, Asad, my best friend from university, suggested he and I decided visit Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine during our vacations. Since I had plenty of time to spare, I agreed and the two of us decided to go on Saturday early in the morning to avoid any rush.

At 8am on Saturday, Asad came over and together we left, on my motorbike, for the shrine. After offering our fateha, we realised thatit was still relatively early and we didn’t have anything is specific planned out. S on our way down the stairs of the shrine, Asad said it was a nice day to go to the beach. The thought of the relaxing sea breeze and quiet waves was very enticing. Since we were already so close to Sea View, I agreed.

Since it was still earlier in the day, the sun was not very strong and a cool breeze welcomed us near the water. We walked on the beach for a while, in silence, taking in the beauty that surrounded us. It was the perfect morning.

After a few minutes, we were approached by two young boys – roughly around eight or nine-years-old – inquiring about whether we were interested in taking a horseback ride.

Funnily enough, the boys were not accompanied by horses. I let out a confused laugh and Asad inquired,

Beta, where is this horse that you’re asking us to ride?”

At this, one of the boys shouted something in a high-pitched voice and two horses came running towards us, and stopped near them. We were really in no mood to ride a horse at first but the children insisted so much that we gave in. They told us that one round was Rs10. We agreed and got atop the horses.

The ride was fantastic. The cold wind blowing in our faces was very refreshing and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. After 15minutes or so, I told Asad that I had had my fill and was planning to get off the horse. He, too, was tired by now and we decided it was time to head home, but when we told the children to stop, they refused to listen. They pleaded for us to take another round and convinced us to take another round. The breeze was so nice that we agreed and stayed atop for another 20minutes. At the end of that, when we asked them to let us down, they refused to let us off the horses. At this point, alarm bells started going off in a remote part of my brain. I insisted, but to no avail.

When we did finally manage to get off the horses is when things went unimaginably wrong. We took out Rs10 each and handed it over to the kids. At the sight of the money, however, the demeanour of the children and their attitude towards us changed completely. They threw the money on the floor and started yelling at us about how the amount to ride the horse was Rs840 each, and that we owed them Rs1680! My jaw fell to the floor,

“What rubbish are you talking? We were supposed to pay you Rs10 each, as agreed earlier. Why are you asking for such a high amount now?”

Asad asked the children to pick up the money but they refused, still arguing that we owed them RS1680. Thoroughly agitated, Asad picked up the money from the ground and we started making our way to my motorbike.

Suddenly, a man – in his early 20s – came out of nowhere and grabbed Asad’s collar. He punched him in the neck and Asad fell to the ground. Since it was early in the morning, the beach was relatively empty. The only people present were corn-vendors and camel drivers; none of whom came to our aid. We felt completely trapped.

I felt my throat going dry while we tried to explain to the man that the agreed amount was Rs10 per horse ride. It was unfair to demand a higher price after we had gotten off the horses, and we were not going to pay. A small crowd of vendors etc started gathering around us; I felt like we were being cornered. We did not dare to make any sudden moves to avoid further aggravating the situation. The man who hit Asad started searching our pockets. He found Rs1500, put the money in his pocket and shoved us away. That money was all we had for the month and so I tried convincing him that we would be willing to pay Rs100 each, but that much was entirely unjustified. Instead of hearing us out and negotiating, the man threatened us of ‘dire consequences’ if we didn’t ‘keep our mouths shut’ and leave the area that instant. By now I had had enough. We did not agree to such a long ride in the first place and I refused to be bullied a second time. Furious enough, I decided that I was willing to put up a fight, but Asad pulled me towards the bike and said things may get out of hand, and that we should just leave.

Looking around us I realised that there was no point fighting a losing battle and getting hurt in the process, Asad was right, and so we decided to leave.

When we were getting onto my bike, I heard a roar of laughter behind me. The entire crowd was bursting with hilarity, while the two children gave us smug looks. That was the last straw. I explain to Asad how this was not on and we could not just let them get away with robbing us like this!

At this point, with no other viable option left, I decided to call the police. Although I knew that the police in Karachi was notorious and asking them for help may result in more trouble. But I just felt like it was the right thing to do. I took out my cellphone and dialled 15. I explained the entire situation to the operator on the helpline. He inquired whether the man who robbed us was still present at the beach. Still staring at the crowd, agitation boiling through my veins, I told him that he was still very much present at the beach. Still unsure about whether this was the right thing to do or not, I asked the operator bluntly as to whether I should wait on the police or not waste my time? In a consoling voice he stated that a police unit should reach us within five minutes.

In the meanwhile, Asad kept insisting we leave because he thought that the entire thing was just a futile exercise. But I was adamant and kept waiting. I was aware of every passing minute and once the excruciating 13th minute had gone by, I received a call from a police officer, asking for my location. I gave them the exact coordinates and soon enough a police mobile from the Boat Basin Police Station arrived.

A sub-inspector came out of the mobile and when I narrated the incident to him, I was astonished to see that the police mobile had left and the sub-inspector was left on his own to deal with the situation. Surprised, I asked him how he would handle so many people alone but he replied that it was his job to worry about that. He asked us to go and point out the men, and to leave the rest up to him.

When I showed him the children with the horses, he ran towards them and caught them – but with a smirk on his face asked if these ‘little children’ had mugged us. I told him that another guy, who had beaten us, was their companion and that he had disappeared now.

While we were still having this conversation with the policeman, another man came crying towards us and complained that a photographer had mugged him too – the agreed amount of taking a photo was Rs30 but the photographer charged him Rs500 and when the man didn’t agree, the photographer forcibly took the money from him. He had also been beaten up and wore bruises on his face.

The sub-inspector had already started beating the children up, asking them where the money was. During this commotion, a man came to us and said that he would give us our money if we would ask the police inspector to let his children go. Angered by the mere thought that this man was responsible for the bringing up of those children, I told him to give us our money back first. This man, who wore a regular a shabby shalwar kameez, took a wad of money out of his pocket, licked his finger, counted three Rs500 notes and handed them to us. When the sub-inspector saw that the man had returned the money, he caught hold of him and arrested him as well as his children. By this time the police mobile had returned and the criminals were taken away.

This event made me understand just how dangerous it was to visit Sea View in the morning and how there was so much street crime these days. Crime is rampant in Karachi, and even our beaches aren’t safe anymore. While this paints a really dismal picture for Karachiites, what restored my faith in our city and its people was the police officer who helped us. To be honest, I was convinced we would have to pay the officer the Rs1500 after getting it back, but I regretted that thought after this incident. It was then that I realised that not all police officials were the same dishonest and corrupt officials. Some of them were true to their uniforms and I hope that they serve as inspiration for the rest of the police force too!

Read the original Urdu version of this blog here.

Syed Oun Abbas

Syed Oun Abbas

He is pursuing a Bachelors degree in mass communication at the University of Karachi.

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

  • Pindiwal

    Firstly you should have given them at least 100 Rupees bro.We have heard how much Karachi is sasta but seriously I had no idea that you people give 10 Rupees for a horse ride.
    Secondly,Karachi police rocks.Recommend

  • s_shahid

    I am glad you wrote about the incident.. My friend and I was walking at sea view sometime back .. We noticed small kids were begging for money .. One of them came to my friend and blocked his way, politely we asked him to get aside n let us go but that kid refused we waited for 15 mins there but no use finally my friend had to slap the kid .. We felt really bad but there was no way we could move from that place with him stick with us..all the vendors etc were around and they were all seeing tamasha only..its really getting dangerous with these Afghani and Pathan kids around..Recommend

  • Hunza wala

    A very harrowing tale ! And how dangerous some areas can be.
    Here is a question…Rs.10 for a horse ride?? On the beach? Huh?
    You cannot even buy a cup of tea for Rs.10 ! Let alone a horse ride !
    This is almost like a joke. And so hard to believe that author fell for it.
    Thank God for little mercies. The author is very naive. Gullible.Recommend

  • Jay Baloch

    don’t know if it is a dangerous place or not but be assured it is a damn dirty place to hang out with friends. yuck!
    PS: Whole Pakistan is a dangerous place – you are a blogger you should know the very fact of this country.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Let me tell you a story…… a long, long time ago when I was your age, possibly a little older, me and two friends walked into a bar on the Reeperbahn in the St.Pauli district of Hamburg ( Germany )……..two bottles of champagne and three great looking girls materialised out of nowhere……..long story short, it was lesson all of us remember to this day.
    It happens all over the world……thank the saint and take it as a blessing in disguise.Recommend

  • Alba

    Take a local or two with you all the time when going to a new place. Only go at busy or in-business hours. Be cautious in your dealing. If something don’t fit to common sense, run away! Don’t start a conversation with a stranger. You never know s/he may be a bait for another step-2 in the back pocket. Do not reward a govt official he or you might get in trouble. Dont hangout aimlessly anywhere.Recommend

  • Grace

    Interesting story but also reminds me of why people don’t want to go to Karachi. I have never had such experiences anywhere in Punjab and when my friends ask me to visit Karachi I politely decline that I am busy. In Lahore and Gujranwala, people, even children, agree upon a price and stick to the verbal agreement as a matter of honour. It is considered shameful to break your word. The crowd in Lahore would be on the side of the one who broke the deal and broke his word , even if they were adults vs kids.Recommend

  • INFJ

    I understand your fury at the incident but as someone who just read this, I feel very, very sad for the children. What kind of upbringing must they have had to turn into thugs? I’m also scared at the thought of the kind of treatment they will now receive from the police. The sub inspector had started beating those kids up right there! That’s …. horrible.Recommend

  • Danish

    Thanks for sharing the story.Recommend

  • Mir Taqi

    Well done Karachi Police!Recommend

  • Haziq Ali

    Exactly same incident happened with us a year ago and it was in daylight! No one from the crowd came to our help and I beleive that there is a business going on about looting people.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    The way the Police Officer went about his business is dubious. Do you know what happened at the Police Station. I think it was a sham. The Police know who to take on and who to ride shod. Certainly you did not look the type. I can only say “Lucky You”. Do not make the mistake again. It was all an enacted Drama.Recommend

  • Jamal

    Same incident was about to happen with us… But we were lucky that it was Saturday and a huge crowed was there…. and we paid only Rs. 100 (Rs. 50 per head decided with Camel wala)…. and we had a long camel ride…Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    I only hope & wish that the IG Police is an Internet Fan. He will get some picture as to what is happening around in his City & Province.Recommend

  • Sagar

    Thank yew for sharing this incident bro now we all be aware of such kind of situation and it will surely save people ..Recommend

  • imran

    lol at Rs 10 for a horse ride..sounds like you are talking of dark ages..and riding a horse for 20+15=35 mins and handing Rs 10 to the ownerRecommend

  • Hoshang Ansari

    This is pathetic. Punjab is safe? Where they had the Model Town
    Massacre? 14 people shot dead by police. Where a pregnant woman
    stoned to death on Lahore High Court steps? While the police stood and watched? Where they burnt to death a Christian couple? Where Joseph
    Colony happened? Where a famous journalist Raza Rumi [ET contributor]
    was shot at. He stood in the middle of the road asking for help while his
    driver bled to death. Where a man was axed to death by a policeman in
    a holding cell. Where a deranged British citizen with a history of mental
    illness was shot by his guard. [The man is on death row accused of
    blasphemy.] Where they hunt Ahmadis like animals. Two girls, their
    grandmother died when their house was set on fire, all Ahmadis.
    Keep going? Want more details? More examples?
    Please stay in Lahore ! Do not come to Karachi ! They have enough
    problems.
    Doubt this will be printed. ET moderators censure right and left.Recommend

  • Omar

    I got attacked and robbed there 3 years by a gang of youths. Just avoid that area now.Recommend

  • siraj ahmed

    I along with my some friends have experienced such an event when we visited murree. We were told told to shout out ballons for two rupees each. But in the end he ended up taking 500 rupees from each of us. And when we shouted about 10 of his accomplices gathered..Recommend

  • ab

    Well all kind of mafia has occupied the city. i faced a similar situation at tibet center karachi where i took my car for some part change on sunday when the market was closed , only some shops opened. they forced for rubber change and then ask for the money. some 33600. i refused for 2 3 hours , getting tired the mob searched me and found 150 rs on me. i survived :) by the grace of Allah. So don’t go there on sundays. take atleast one two people with you . don’t let them intimidate you in doing something on the car. don’t travel uselessly with your atm or credit card.Recommend

  • sterry

    I think the first writer should have writen that Punjab is relatively safe compared to Karachi and other parts of the country. Punjab is relatively safe compared to Karachi and admitting this obvious fact shouldn’t offend you. I travel from North America to Pakistan and I have never experienced any issues in Punjab and yes we too are afraid to go to Karachi because our own relatives there tell us it is unsafe! Maybe it’s just perception. Just so you know cities in Punjab are statistically safer than most major American cities. The people who were shot and killed in Model Town were religious zealots that were instigated to attack police by a religious leader. This is not a common occurrence. The crazed villagers who attacked a Christian couple are being arrested by this is also an isolated incident. The woman who was attacked by her own family for marrying a man against their wishes will sadly not know that her father and brothers were arrested and given the death penalty. Again these are isolated incidents that don’t add up to the murders in NYC in one year. Keep in mind that you have gathered isolated incidents over more than a year and not daily occurrences. In a province of over 100 million people, you will undoubtedly get violence but to say it is the same as Karachi in terms of violence is just not true.Recommend

  • Not-a-Paindo

    The title could have been a bit less sensational. It happens everywhere in the world and is commonly known as a SCAM.

    And yeah my username might help you not get into such situations again.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Not the first person this happened to. Why is our law enforcement sleeping?Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Good job on getting justice by the way. Good on you that you didn’t give up.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Petty crime and police involvement……something that happens all over the world. I’m not condoning accepting this because it can through good governance be reduced.
    But in this context and at your age….take it as a lesson learnt.Recommend

  • zain

    Same thing happen to us but we didnt call the police and leave the sea view with the idea to never visit after sunset.Recommend

  • Hoshang Ansari

    The incidents viewed portrays a fabric of Punjab. The
    culture mindset . Describing an ongoing narrative. Over
    years and years. A true picture. Not isolated flukes. Still,
    why the sudden comparison to New York or US statistics?
    Suddenly the discussion reverted to New York and US?
    These are two separate cultures. There is no co relation.
    One is the richest country in the world, the other a very
    poor country. And comparing their cities borders on lunacy.
    Should we go into save havens that are provided to various
    extremist and terrorists groups in Punjab? On conditions
    that they leave the Province alone. Perhaps you can give comparable statistics to US? The response time from the
    police in any major US city, if you dial the emergency,
    is 6 to 10 minutes. You might provide a corresponding statistics. There is no comparison. Its apples and khajoors.
    Please do not let your communal and provincial patriotic
    zeal get all fired up and cloud common sense. And a very
    feeble attempt to disguise the true nature of a province.Recommend

  • Sacred

    Don’t generalize the whole Pathan/Pushtun ethnicity.Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    I’m glad there are still some police officials who are not corrupt.Recommend

  • Sane

    Such boys are basically criminal in garb of beggars.Recommend

  • stevenson

    Sounds like someone is trying hard to prove a point but failing miserably. I am from Canada. I go to Rawalpindi and Lahore all the time but I haven’t gone to Karachi in years for the same reasons the others have already commented on. You can hate Pakistan and in particular Punjab where majority of Pakistanis live but you can’t change facts about reality there.Learn to cheer up and try not to be so miserable when someone states a fact.Recommend