An FIR was lodged against 150 unidentified and 72 nominated members of the Shia community on Sunday for alleged blasphemy during a scuffle between the procession mourners and area residents which left at least 10 people injured.
Taking notice of the incident, District Police Officer Rai Ijaz suspended Abdul Hakeem station house officer Zakir Gujjar for not taking action and ordered the police officials concerned to start an inquiry against him. The DPO appointed Inspector Mehar Saeed as the new SHO of Abdul Hakeem police station.
The FIR was registered by Abdul Haadi Usman, a resident of Abdul Hakeem, who said that mourners passing through the area threw stones at banners with the Prophet (pbuh)’s name inscribed on them.
He said they did this when they were stopped from passing through the area, which, he said, was not part of the traditional route plan for the ashura processions.
The FIR has been registered under Sections 295-A, 337-L2, 337-A1 and A2, 436, 427, 148 and 149. No one has been arrested so far.
Police said when the procession passed through Abdul Hakeem some locals stopped the mourners saying that the area was not included in the traditional route plan.
They said this led to an argument between some mourners and the locals. The argument took a turn for worse when the mourners and the locals started pelting each other with stones.
They said the members of the local peace committee tried to resolve the issue, but to no avail. They said the residents of the area, most of them believed to be members of a banned organisation—Sipah-i-Sahaba, did not let the procession pass through the area.
At least 10 people were injured in the stone pelting. They were taken to a rural health centre, from where six of them were referred to Nishtar Hospital in Multan. Doctors at Nishtar Hospital said the condition of two of them was critical. Four of them with minor injuries were later discharged from the centre.
The procession was called off after the scuffle.
The police said that local traders and residents of the area have blamed the Shiite community for taking the wrong route and committing blasphemy by throwing stones at banners with the Prophet (pbuh)’s name on them.
On the other hand, police say local leaders of the Shiite community have blamed Sipah-i-Sahaba for provoking the people.
Shiite leaders Fazal Shah and Ali Hussain Shah have denied the accusation. They said no one threw stones at the banners.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2012.