KARACHI: There seems to be little point in the sabotage. The bombs are small, locally made and only cause a mild nuisance – the railways staff repair them fairly swiftly. It is not clear if the attacks on Sindh’s railway tracks are meant to be a message or a mission.
There have been 16 explosions in one and a half months. “I fail to understand why only minor explosions of locally-made bombs are taking place on the tracks,” says Muhammad Bux Khaki of the Pakistan Railway Drivers Association. “It is just to create the fear and discourage people from travelling in trains.” According to him, the first ones took place during Mushrraf’s tenure and the transporter mafia was behind it. It is because of this that railway drivers feel that the agenda is not secessionist but “anti-railway”.
On Tuesday, two explosions took place near Hyderabad’s Udero Lal railway station.
“After the explosion at the railway tracks on February 11, we rounded up more than 12 activists of the Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz,” Hyderabad’s police chief Munir Shaikh told The Express Tribune. “But it seems to me that explosions at gas pipelines in Hyderabad and other areas are a part of it and these people are trying to mount pressure on the police to release their people.”
According to the police, they have found pamphlets of the insurgent Sindhu Desh Liberation Army near the tracks and suspect they are behind it.
The organisation is said to be the brainchild of the Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz led by Shafi Burfat.
Burfat, who originally belongs to Jamshoro district, left the Jeay Sindh Tahreek founded by GM Syed, and jumped between different factions of the party before launching his own faction. Its aim is to agitate for the rights of the Sindhi through “guerrilla warfare”. But leaders of the party disown the attacks and even any affiliation with the Sindhu Desh Liberation Army. Burfat is underground for now and the government has announced a bounty for his arrest. But vice-chairman of his party, Lala Asad Pathan, was arrested by the police a few days ago in Shikarpur. However, a judicial magistrate raided the police station where he was being kept and said the custody was “unlawful”.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Lala Asad Pathan said that they were being implicated in terrorist cases because otherwise they had nothing to do with the sabotage or the Sindhu Desh Liberation Army. “We are being implicated in fabricated cases and are ready to be hanged if we are found guilty,” he said, adding that the Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz had announced an armed struggle just to pressure the government to surrender the control of natural resources to the people of Sindh.
There is a third opinion, mostly espoused by factions that describe themselves as peaceful. Dr Safdar Sarki has his own faction – Jeay Sindh Tehreek. He said he wasn’t aware of who was behind the attacks. But he felt that it could not be ruled out that the state machinery was trying to defame the nationalists. “There is a sense of deprivation among the people of Sindh,” he said. “There is a possibility that some people are working along the pattern of the Balochistan Liberation Army.”
Dr Qadir Magsi of the Jeay Sindh Tarraqi Passand Party [Long live a peaceful and progressive Sindh] was against the attacks and added that people who wanted Sindh to secede should learn a lesson from the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. Sindh was the land of the Sufis and revolution was only possible through peaceful agitation, he stressed. “This is a militant movement and will affect the rights-based movement started by the Sindhi people,” he said.
GM Syed, one of Sindh’s earliest nationalists, founded the Jeay Sindh Tehreek, which split into 11 groups after his death:
Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (Bashir Qureshi Group)
Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (Arisar Group)
Jeay Sindh Mahaz (Riaz Chandio Group)
Jeay Sindh Tehreek led by Dr Safdar Sarki
Jeay Sindh Qaumparast Party led by Qamar Bhatti
Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz led by Shafi Muhammad Burfat
Sindh United Party led by GM Syed’s grandson Jalal Mehmood Shah
Jeay Sindh Mahaz led by Abdul Khaliq Junejo
Jeay Sindh Mahaz (Rasool Bux Thebo Group)
Jeay Sindh Mahaz (Sufi Hazoor Bux Group)
Jeay Sindh Tahreek (Shafi Karnani Group)
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2011.