‘Sectarian’ target killings? : Deobandi leader gunned down in busy street

Published: May 14, 2012

Six armed men take part in assault on Maulana Aslam Sheikhupuri’s vehicle in Karachi. PHOTO: EXPRESS/RASHID AJMERI

Six armed men take part in assault on Maulana Aslam Sheikhupuri’s vehicle in Karachi. PHOTO: EXPRESS/RASHID AJMERI Six armed men take part in assault on Maulana Aslam Sheikhupuri’s vehicle in Karachi. PHOTO: EXPRESS/RASHID AJMERI
KARACHI: 

Prominent religious leader and scholar Maulana Aslam Sheikhupuri and his driver were gunned down when assailants on two motorcycles opened fire on the cleric’s car on Sunday afternoon in what was termed a sectarian killing.

Two security guards, accompanying the 54-year-old cleric – who belonged to the Deoband school of thought – were also wounded in the attack which took place at 1 pm near Rangoonwala Hall in the Dhoraji area, which falls within the New Town police precincts.

Witnesses told The Express Tribune that six armed men, riding two motorcycles, intercepted the green Toyota Corolla and sprayed it with bullets. They added that Maulana Sheikhupuri was sitting in the front seat. “The car was attacked from three sides,” said a nearby flower-vendor.

New Town police have registered an FIR against the six unidentified men on the complaint of Maulana Shaikupuri’s relative Mehmoodul Hassan. East Zone DIG Captain (retd) Tahir Naveed has constituted an investigation team which will submit the report in three days. Although the police have collected evidence and initiated investigations, they were unable to ascertain the actual motive behind the murder or trace the culprits. SHO Inam Hussain Junejo revealed that the assailants used 9mm pistols in what seemed like a “sectarian-based” attack.

The assailants reportedly managed to escape, speeding towards the Stadium Road after spraying the car with at least one dozen bullets. All four victims were taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre where Maulana Sheikhupuri and the driver succumbed to their injuries. Doctors termed the condition of the injured security guards critical.

Following the religious leader’s death, a score of his followers reached the hospital and raised slogans against rival groups. His associates contended that the attackers belonged to a “rival sectarian group”. In reaction to the killing, tension prevailed in parts of the city as armed men also resorted to indiscriminate firing but no other casualty was reported till the filing of this report.  Maulana Sheikhupuri, who hailed from Shaikhupura, was the prayer leader of Masjid-o-Madrassa Tawabeen in Gulshan-e-Maymar. He had also been associated with the Jamia Binoria for about 25 years. Maulana Yousuf Ludhianvi, Maulana Mohammad Yousuf Banori, Maulana Mufti Ahmedur Rehman were some of his teachers.

MQM condemns killings

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain condemned the killings, terming it part of a conspiracy to ignite sectarian strife in the city.

Altaf appealed to religious scholars belonging to different schools of thought to maintain religious harmony and asked them not to give up patience under any circumstances, through a statement.

Deobandi leaders’ reaction

Meanwhile, angry clerics at various Deobandi madrassas threatened the government with “dire consequences” if authorities fail to trace and penalise the culprits.

“Our young men are running out of patience,” said a statement by Wafaqul Madaris al Arabia (WMA), an umbrella organisation for more than 12,000 Deobandi seminaries across Pakistan.

“The silence of the government and law enforcement agencies on the killings of ulemas (religious leaders) is shameful. We will be forced to take necessary steps if the killers are not arrested,” added the statement issued by WMA President Maulana Salimullah Khan.

Earlier this year, two prominent religious leaders belonging to the Deoband school of thought were targeted in the same manner. Police were able to arrest the attackers who allegedly belonged to a rival sectarian group known for its involvement in the killings of religious leaders.

(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ZIA KHAN FROM ISLAMABAD)

Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Asad Ali
    May 14, 2012 - 9:27AM

    The martyrdom of Maulana Aslam Sheikhupuri is a big loss. He was regarded as one of the saner voices among Deobandi school of thought. He was paralysed from abdomen and needed support to move around. I have heard him speaking at seminaries a number of times and never heard him uttering any word against any sect.

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  • Lord
    May 14, 2012 - 9:33AM

    Its a shame and act to create more disharmony among sects.

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  • musulman
    May 14, 2012 - 10:05AM

    This is never ending business in Pakistan now. Islam is being used for all purposes in Pakistan and I am affraid one day, people will shot those who talk about Islam.

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  • Concerned
    May 14, 2012 - 11:07AM

    Most unfortunate, even Sunni Muslims are not safe in Pakistan.

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  • Faizan
    May 14, 2012 - 1:46PM

    A little islam is left within the muslims of Pakistan whereas a veil causing blindness over the truth is prevailing with full momentum. As everywhere there is Allah Allah but nowhere is faith within the hearts. And this is one of the signs of the truthfulness of that truth.

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  • Amir
    May 14, 2012 - 3:29PM

    so two different school of thoughts “arguing” with each other?

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  • Abdul Jabbar
    May 14, 2012 - 3:45PM

    He was one of the pacifists of our time. the darsequran website which he founded is one of his great contributions.May Allah bless him.

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  • dv sikka
    May 14, 2012 - 4:27PM

    A country at war within itself.

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  • syed baqar ahsan
    May 14, 2012 - 7:49PM

    Lot of sincere effort were made to divide this country by own people since money given was too dearer then the Islam and being Musalmaan.

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  • Anonymous
    May 14, 2012 - 11:52PM

    We are repidly runing towards QiyamatRecommend

  • Muazzam Ali Malik
    May 15, 2012 - 7:40AM

    This is a very tragic incident. Scholar of any sect becomes a scholar after a hardwork of many long years. This ought to be stopped otherwise it will create a chaos across whole country.

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  • Ombaba
    May 15, 2012 - 12:02PM

    Whatever happened to the notion of Islam is a Religion of Peace? Why is it that whenever sects have a difference of opinion, they give a fine example of the principle of anything but peace?

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