Rights activist give selves up for arrest to protest missing Shia persons

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KARACHI

Allama Zafar Hassan Naqvi, General Secretary of Majlis Wahdat ul Muslimeen (MWM), along with other prominent leaders of the Shia sect belonging to organisations such as the Anjumane Pasban-eAza have offered themselves up for arrest as part of a ‘Jail bharo movement’ to protest the continuing cases of missing Shia persons.

The protesters claimed that there were at least 136 known cases of Shia persons being missing from Pakistan, of which 18 are from Karachi alone.  The decision to hold the protest had been taken earlier when a number of people protested on the day of Ashura for the recovery of 30 mourners who they alleged had been picked up by agencies upon their return from pilgrimage from Karbala last year.

The protest had been scheduled for Friday and took place after the Friday prayers Khoja Ashna Isri jamey Mosque in Karachi. Before this, a registration camp had also been set up at the Ancholi, Block 20 in the City. A large number of people lined up to register their names so they could give voluntary arrests as a form of protest.

Similar protests had before this been carried out in 2001 by Zafar Hassan Naqvi who has been an active representative of the Shia community having been affiliated with Tehrik e Jafria and being a founding member of the Jafria allaince before his current position as the General Secretary of the MWM.

Before his arrest, Hassan Naqvi addressed the crowd saying “It was legal right of all the missing Shias that they should have been produced in courts of law if they were accused of anything but they were not produced in the courts that meant they were not wanted in any case hence it is legitimate demands of their heirs that they must be released forthwith.”

Along with Zafar Hassan Naqvi, one of the people that offered themselves up for imprisonment was the ailing, nonagenarian father of missing rights activist, Syed Samar Abbas. Others that offered themselves up included Yaqub Shahbaz of Shia Ulema Council, Syed Tasawwur Hussain Rizvi, head of Jafaria Legal Aid and Syed Saghir Abid Rizvi of All Pakistan Shia Action Committee. Local police carried away the protesters in a single mobile as those that remained behind shouted slogans in support of them.

The arrest of the above mentioned names came after a demonstration that took place before the formal self-handover. Protesters carried pictures of the missing persons and many of their family members also took part in the procession. Prominent scholars were and members of the Shia community were also in the ranks including Allama Syed Ahmed Iqbal Rizvi, Allama Mukhtar Imami, Alama Dost Ali Saeedi of the MWM, Allama Sadiq Taqvi, Mubashir Zaidi, and Hassan Raza Sohail. The rally was also attended by persons belonging to the civil community and other human rights activists.

Earlier, when the event had first been announced, the leaders of the movement had said “this is not for any one sect. It is a matter for the entire country and we would urge people from all walks of life and religious affiliations to join us.”

The protesters that signed up are due to give their arrests in the coming days as the movement is being planned in phases. Prominent figures including Allama Mirza Yousuf Hussain, Maulana Dr Aqeel Moosa and Allama Ahmed Iqbal will offer arrest in next phases of the Jail Bharo Tehreek.