- Aerial firing and brick attack by locals injures 15
- Heavy police contingents deployed in area
More than 15 people were injured in a shootout during a mourning procession at Imam Bargah Hussaini, Dhup Sari in Sandha precincts on Tuesday afternoon.
Witnesses said unrest began after a dispute between the procession’s participants and the locals. The locals, some of them armed, tried to block the way of the procession at Dr Nazir Road in the area leading to an altercation between the two parties.
“A few armed men obstructed the procession soon after it initiated from the imam bargah, forcing it to return. They objected to the procession’s route, alleging that the organisers were attempting to extend it,” said a witness.
According to local sources, the organisers, adamant at completing the course of proceedings, led the procession back on its route after some time. This instigated the locals who resorted to aerial firing which was countered by the security guards of the procession. The procession participants were also attacked with bottles and bricks, sources said.
According to the police, the commotion left over a dozen injured including the local SHO and six police constables. The injured were shifted to Mayo and General hospitals.
The local SHO, DIG Operations Rana Abdul Jabbar and SP Security Ali Salman Khan rushed to the scene with heavy contingents of police and brought the situation under control.
According to DIG Jabbar, the police initiated a search operation in the area and arrested around eight men, seized weapons and initiated an enquiry into the matter after the registration of FIRs. He said that additional police force would be deployed in the area for Muharam processions. He also formed a local peace committee to ensure peaceful proceedings of processions in the area.
Meanwhile, an uneasy calm prevails in the area as both parties continue to accuse each other of unrest. The Shias allege that the locals had been obstructing the proceedings of the majalis and the procession since morning.
“A few miscreants in the vicinity won’t let us organise majalis here. They have been objecting to our religious views for long now. They are fools if they think that we will get scared by their guns and forget organising majalis. Come what may, we will keep preaching the teachings of the Prophet (PBHU) and his progeny,” a mourner, Rizwan Mehdi, said while talking to Pakistan Today.
“Not all locals are against us. A handful of local miscreants created this scene and attempted to blemish the face of Islam on grounds of sectarian disharmony,” said Irtiza Ali, another procession participant, explaining that it was a local dispute which resulted in disrupting of the procession.
On the other hand, the locals say that the mourners were attempting to extend the route of the procession.
“We have no objection to the government sanctioned route of the procession but the organizers of the procession deliberately tried to extend it. We condemn the unrest caused earlier in the day by some angry youths and hope such a situation would not recur,” said Ahmed Bilal, a local.
Reporting by Rana Haider, translation, editing and additional reporting by Moosa Abbas.