Every city has a set of its own urban legends. Some are fun and lighthearted. While others are dark and broody. Either way these stories gives a city a character of sorts. Like take Karachi for instance, we all know it’s the financial hub of Pakistan. The citizens are from diverse ethnic backgrounds. A shit load of colonial structures. Hustling and bustling streets. But its the various stories you hear that make you visualize the city as a person. Regardless of whether its true or not, the under the belly stuff gives you a much clearer insight.
One crazy urban legend in the city of lights is about a dangerous gang called the ‘Hathora Gang’
Back in the 1980’s Karachi was dealing with a lot of shit. General Zia ul Haq had just taken over the country however was being met with political resistance. There was an influx of Afghan refugees. Due to the political turmoil of sorts incidents relating mugging, land grabbing and target killing were at a peak. Also heroin addiction was on the rise.
Amidst all of the chaos happening in the Karachi of the 80’s there were reports of a series of killings happening in a consistent pattern i.e. with the use of a hathora
The victims were primarily homeless people on the streets
Their bodies showed signs of being struck by a blunt object possibly a hammer that is known as ‘Hathora‘ in Urdu. After the seventh murder of the same nature , the Police began to suspect that the killings were being done under a single agenda. Initially the theory was that a serial killer was responsible for the killing spree. Kinda’ like our very own Jack the Ripper.
The murders were not limited to a single area in Karachi
They were spread all across. Later on however the idea of their being a single individual responsible for all of this was dismissed. Instead a gang of sorts was being blamed for the murders.
A beggar on Burns road had reported that he was once saw a group of men dressed in white wearing black masks that came to attack him. Somehow the beggar survived and his story spread like wild fire. Following this the killers were being dubbed as the Hathora group. While the authorities failed to solve the mystery, several theories surfaced.
Some believed that was a militant group working on a socialist agenda
Quite ironic in someways. My knowledge on socialism is pretty limited but if they were a socialist group, based on the theories of socialism, shouldn’t they gone after the rich first before terrorizing the beggars? But considering everything is not black and white in this world I shouldn’t comment any further on a philosophy I am not well versed in. People suggested that the KGB along with Afghan intelligence agencies were backing them up. The agenda here was possibly to create an atmosphere of panic and create trouble for the much capitalistic Zia regime. Well the hammer could be symbolic I suppose.
Others saw this as the work of the establishment
Using these thugs to spread terror and fear in the hearts of those trying to resist the dictatorial regime. Considering that drug usage was rampant in that era it was being labelled as a death squad to rid the nation of addicts by some circles. Some suggested that the death squad was an independent group with no affiliation to the establishment. Basically a bunch of guys fucking around. Much like in the movie “Clockwork Orange”.
One theory suggested that the motive was far more sinister and the group may actually be a Satanic Cult
The killings were seen as part of a satanic ritual. An English newspaper had reported that cults had formed that indulged in mysterious rituals. The members were reported to be from high socio economic backgrounds with some alluding that they were people who had become seemingly rich overnight.
Whatever the theory, nothing materialized and the talk about the cult soon died as other things gripped the attention of the awaam but it sure is interesting to imagine, if there was a satanic cult that started in the 80’s, maybe they still carry on their activities to this day… anything in Karachi is possible, tbh.