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A night of Beela-Moorat violence in Karachi’s khwajasira world

Birthday party opens risk of gang rape for guests

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 23, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 weeks ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Sep 23, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 weeks ago

The farmhouse where the attack took place is in Gadap. Art: SAMAA Digital

Those who society does not accept seek refuge in its margins and in this story it is a literal margin—along the fringes of Karachi in Gadap. But it is here, in the metaphoric and physical margins that such people, trans people, are also the most vulnerable as the events from the night of September 19 proved.

(The headline has been amended to use the more accurate community word of khwajasira than the Western trans)

The initial report

Shehzadi’s “birthday party” was in full swing at the White Villa farmhouse in Gadap, when more than two dozen uninvited men arrived at 1:10am. The chowkidar smelled a rat and locked the gate as a precaution. One guest, Dr Muhammad Moiz, drew up in his car to find the mob at the gate. They did not let him enter and attacked him. (Note: for a fuller understanding of the khwajasira ‘birthday party’ please see Dr Moiz’s videos on Instagram @unrelentlesslyyours)

Some men managed to forcefully enter the farmhouse. Amid the commotion, and a scuffle with Dr Moiz, someone opened aerial fire from the farmhouse next door. After a short while the police reached the spot.

The police registered FIR No 455/2021 under Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of Dr Moiz.

Dr Moiz’s statement to the police

In his statement to the police, Dr Moiz said that he reached the farmhouse in a car at 1:30am. According to him, ten to twelve men outside stopped him from entering and abused and threatened him. The men at the gate tried to pull him out of the car but the people in the next farmhouse intervened. He called for help and the Gadap police reached the spot.

Gadap SHO Notak Khan told Samaa Digital that he received a call from an ASP from District West at around 1:40am that a mob was attacking someone somewhere at the Northern Bypass. By the time he received a more accurate location pin and was able to reach it, the attackers had fled.

SHO Notak Khan said the police rescued Dr Moiz and his friends and then on his or the event organizer’s identification, took six suspects into custody. But all of them were later released on their request.

A protest is being organised for people of all genders at the Karachi Press Club Friday at 4pm

The Beela attackers

Dr Moiz told SAMAA Digital that there was a plan to celebrate the birthday of a transwoman called Shahzadi that night. He was invited by Shahzadi, who is a close friend and they work together a lot for the khwajasira movement in Pakistan. (An earlier version of this story used the word transgender. It has been replaced with the more accurate khwajasira).

But when Dr Moiz reached he found the farmhouse locked. “I called B– and O–, the organizers, but they told me to leave as Beelas had arrived and they are going to be attacked.” He told his driver to reverse the car.

Beela is a term used by the khwajasira community for those who perpetrate violence against them for rejecting their coercive sexual behavior. Beelas are “an organised syndicate of criminals who plan, stalk and attack khwajasiras, trans-feminine people and young boys,” according to Dr Moiz.  

“When we were about to leave then I saw a car and multiple motorcycles behind our four-wheeler,” Dr Moiz said. They parked a rickshaw in front of his car and surrounded it with motorcycles. They started banging on his door and kept asking where he was going. In response, Dr Moiz asked what they were doing there and they replied that they had been invited by someone called Shayan for a function.

Beela is a term used by the transgender community for those who perpetrate violence against them for rejecting their coercive sexual behavior  

According to Dr Moiz, the men were insisting on entering the farmhouse. They thought some kind of party was going on and they wanted to see what was happening. Two of them seemed to be armed. They said that they came from Landhi and Korangi and would not go back without enjoying the “party”.

“I couldn’t risk the lives of community members who had hid and locked themselves in a room when the Beelas arrived,” said Dr Moiz. He told them who he was and tried to throw them off by saying it was a family function. “I avoided using the word ‘transgender’ because I knew that if I did, they would definitely attack community members.”

Two of the men then threatened to rape Dr Moiz. As they were speaking in Pashto, Dr Moiz’s driver tried to intervene as he spoke the language. As he rolled down the window, one of the men forced his hand in and opened the door.

Dr Moiz started calling a childhood friend who is a bureaucrat to ask for help and send a location pin on WhatsApp. The men grabbed Dr Moiz and punched him. “One of them held me by my shirt and tried to drag me out,” he said. “I lay down on the seat and grabbed his shirt and kicked him in self defense.”

As the men struggled, and fought, gunshots were fired by people from a farmhouse next door.

Beelas and Moorats: protection pressure

This much is clear: someone leaked the information of the function to an outsider, attracting the Beelas.

Dr Moiz explained that a Moorat could have done this. Moorats are people who are “sexual slaves” of Beelas and have to do whatever they say and in return they get protection. “It’s a rule that a Beela cannot attack and rape the Moorat of another Beela and if any Moorat deceives him then the Beela and his gang can either gang rape the Moorat or chop off his hair as punishment.”

A Beela cannot rape the Moorat of another Beela and if any Moorat deceives him then the Beela and his gang can either gang rape the Moorat or chop off his hair as punishment

Moorats tell their Beelas about parties. “A Moorat would have shared the location of Shehzadi’s ‘birthday party’,” he said he reckoned. Beelas target transgender people; they would have wanted to rape the transgender people there and rob them of the gifts and money.

Given the risks, Bazal took responsibility for the event’s security and assured Shehzadi that arrangements would be made.  

A dark underbelly

A day later, on September 20, a man and a woman who identified themselves as Osama Qureshi and Shagufta Sikandar came to see the SHO of Gadap. They told SHO Notak Khan that Shagufta was a crime reporter with a monthly magazine. The SHO asked how he could help her and she said that one of her relatives had left his motorbike by mistake outside the farmhouse a day before.

Shagufta said that she wanted to take the motorcycle that was seized by the Gadap police. The SHO asked her for its registration but when she shared the details, he realised that this was from that particular farmhouse.

SHO Notak Khan took a photo of the man with his mobile phone and sent it to Dr Moiz. In the meantime, he asked a constable to serve the two of them tea to buy some time. The SHO said that Dr Moiz confirmed that this man was the one who tried to drag him from the car. The SHO locked up the suspect and let Shagufta go.

A confession: secret filming

When the police then questioned this Osama Qureshi, he confessed that he was from the gang that went to try to gatecrash the party. He claimed that he used to attend parties organized by the khwajasira community, but he never attacked them nor tried to rape anyone.

Instead, he told the police, he would go to the parties to film whatever was going on with his cell phone. He would do this for a man called Ahsan Shamsi who he said owns a web channel called Roz Khabarnama. The suspect claimed that Shamsi gave him money for the videos.

The suspect told the police that he was a member of two WhatsApp groups, namely Gaymers and Hot News. Information about Shehzadi’s ‘party’ surfaced on them and so he decided to go, but when he arrived at the farmhouse he found it surrounded by motorcycles.

The suspect told the police that he was a member of two WhatsApp groups, namely Gaymers and Hot News

The suspect said that when Dr Moiz arrived, he asked what he was doing there. When he told Dr Moiz he had come for the party, he was told it was a family function. The suspect claimed that a few minutes later ten other men in two cars arrived.

The suspect said that he fled after the firing started. He jumped into another farmhouse and did not leave until the police left. But when he searched for his motorcycle he it was not there in the morning.

The suspect said that he is a resident of Nazimabad and runs a butcher shop in Gol Market. He said he had been attending parties for the last three years. Some of them have an entry fee but most of them are by invitation only. When the police questioned him, he said that if he wanted to gatecrash a party he was not invited to, he would tell the organizers that he was a media person. This would scare them and they would allow him in. According to him, he had attended many parties in Gadap and Memon Goth and the chowkidars know him by name.

He said this is how he filmed many parties and gave Ahsan Shamsi the videos.

SHO Notak Khan found voice recordings from the suspect’s mobile phone. In one recording a man warns him to be careful about attending September 19’s party because it would be attacked by 300 to 400 people.

The SHO said that the gang who arrived at White Villa belonged to three groups. These men invite young men to join and the boys mostly come from Landhi, Korangi, Quaidabad and Akhtar Colony.

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