PESHAWAR: The day Rifaqatullah, an intending pilgrim, died was also the day he bought Ehrams for himself and his wife – right before he was to leave for Islamabad to collect a Hajj flight schedule.
But Rifaqat, 50, never got to Islamabad. While participating in Friday’s demonstrations against the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims,” he was shot in the back when police opened fire on demonstrators.
Rifaqat, who was the president of the Civil Secretariat Drivers’ Association, told his son before he left for the fateful rally, “Today is the day of martyrs and we all have to participate in it because we cannot sit silent over a film which is against our Holy Prophet (PBUH).”
“The entire family was so happy that my older brother and his wife were going for Hajj and when he bought Ehrams, I cannot explain the happiness in our home,” Rifaqat’s brother, Dilawar Khan, told The Express Tribune. “We cannot leave my sister-in-law to perform Hajj alone and we plan to cancel the application though arrangements have been completed and they were expected to leave for Hajj this month,” he added.
For Dilawar, Rifaqat was not just a brother but a guide who every family member consulted whenever any kind of problem arose.
Another relative, Gul Bahaz, said: “We never saw Haji Rifaqat miss a prayer congregation or misbehave with anyone – he was respected by all.”
According to Rifaqat’s son, Wajahatullah, his father was rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital in a critical situation after being shot but there wasn’t a single ambulance available to help him get there.
“My father did not damage anything, he said destruction is against the teaching of Islam because if we are all brothers and we damage anything, it will be like destroying our own property,” the eighth-grader said.
Rifaqat was the breadwinner for his family. He has left behind a wife, four daughters and a teenage son who was with his father when he was shot.
Six people were killed and around 70 injured in the worse riots in decades in Peshawar on ‘Ishq-e-Rasool’ Day besides several cinemas, banks, franchises, parks, dozens of other shops and the Chamber of Commerce building being attacked and burned.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.
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