A man was killed and almost a dozen others were wounded in an armed clash between two religious groups in Landhi police limits on Friday.
The police said that a scuffle broke out between the activists of banned outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Sunni Tehreek (ST) over a mosque being built in Landhi No. 5. Officials say the mosque, Jama Masjid Ummul Qura, belongs to the Jamiat-i-Ahle Hadith and was held by the Ahle Hadith organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa.
Dozens of people, including ST workers, arrived at the construction site after Friday prayers and tried to stop the work and take possession of the mosque. Thirty-four-year-old Mohsin, said to be the son of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa masjid committee president, died while a dozen others were injured in the skirmish that ensued.
The injured, Jamila, 70, Salman, Aurangzaib, Omar Hammad, Mohammad Haris, Kamran, Babar, Rehan Qadri, Mohammad Nadir, Usman Atari, Maulana Nazir Ahmed, Mujeeb Ahmed and Arif, were taken to Jinnah hospital.
Routine and business activities across Landhi came to a halt as members of both religious group took to the streets in protest. They resorted to aerial firing, burnt tyres and pelted passing cars with stones. The police used tear gas and batons for over three hours.
Police officials say that the two groups have been locking horns over this issue for many years and this sort of armed clash became common ever since construction on the mosque began.
A Jamaat-ud-Dawa spokesman, Naeem, told The Express Tribune that all work at the mosque was being done legally. “The law has empowered us to run our religious activities without any hitches,” he claimed.
He held the activists of ST responsible and denied that his group owned the mosque but said it was held by a group from the same school of thought and they were looking into the matter.
Naeem said that 50 to 60 people were confined inside the mosque during the incident, while the area echoed with gunshots. “The land for the mosque was bought six years ago, but the construction has not been completed till this day,” he explained. “Whenever we try to restart the construction, the whole process [of clashes] starts again. The final work was meant to start again today after Friday prayers but it could not be completed once again.”
An ST spokesperson, Fahim Qadri, however, condemned the incident and told The Express Tribune that the mosque belongs to the Ahle Sunnat sect but has been occupied by the Ahle Hadith sect.
He claimed it was the Landhi residents who had an objection with the construction and therefore went to mosque where the clash took place. He said that ST workers were there to support the residents.
Police, including Landhi SP Nasir Aftab and SHO Mazhar Iqbal, were unavailable for comment. No case was registered till this report was filed.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2011.