An activist of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) died and another was injured in firing at Saifee Polytechnic College in North Nazimabad.
According to witnesses, men between 35 and 40 years old, arrived at the college on motorcycles and opened fire. Muhammad Atif was shot in the abdomen. The men sped away and were too fast to catch.
The police arrived and IJT students hurled stones at the police mobiles outside the college and manhandled the policemen. The police retaliated, and according to the IJT, baton charged the students and then opened fire at them. Hafiz Arif was shot in the neck and died on the spot.
The attack might have been triggered when a few IJT students removed the flags of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement from the college gate and threw them on the road. According to a college official, this act was enough to alert the police and a couple of them had already arrived before the attack.
District Central SSP Asim Qaimkhani insisted that the police arrived at the scene when “everything had happened.” He categorically denied any injury or death caused by police firing and said that the IJT activists had injured the policemen by pelting them with stones.
According to him, the initial investigations suggested that the clash occurred over admissions. Eight to 10 students had come to the college for admission when some IJT activists pressed them to join their organisation. “Those students refused and consequently a clash erupted.” While, North Nazimabad SHO Sajid Javed told The Express Tribune that they got to know about the gunfight around noon and SI Wajid Ali Shah rushed to the scene. Javed claimed that the IJT activists attacked Shah and tore up his uniform. Back-up was dispatched. But the SHO said that the policemen only baton-charged the IJT students and didn’t open fire. They took 10 of them into custody.
IJT’s information secretary, Sohaib Ahmed, said that the police “made up the story to cover up the murder” of Hafiz Arif. Ahmed believed that All Pakistan Muttahida Students Organisation (APMSO) might be behind the attack because the IJT had requested the college administration a few days ago to take the MQM flags off the gate.
The college works in two shifts. The IJT dominates the premises in the mornings and APMSO in the evenings. This is what makes it difficult to ascertain who might be responsible for the attack.
Shabbir Ali Babar, information secretary of the APMSO, asserted that his organisation had no connection with the incident since there was no stand-off between them and the IJT. He confirmed that both of them operated in the college in different shifts. He expressed sorrow over Hafiz Arif’s murder and said that it was not appropriate to call the incident ‘a clash between two student organisations.’
Arif’s body was taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, while the injured, Atif underwent surgery at Jinnah hospital and ended up losing a kidney. Who transported the body to the hospital is shrouded in mystery. Both the IJT and police said that it was unclear who took it. A number of people at the hospital said that he was brought in a white Suzuki Alto by two men. Both of them were taken into custody by the police at the hospital. However, SHO Javed denied that they were arrested but confirmed that around 10 IJT activists were being held in custody.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2012.