KARACHI: A year ago, twin brothers Haider and Jamal Qadri celebrated their 23rd birthday together. One year on, Haider’s life hangs by a thread while his brother has left for the eternal world.
On Sunday, January 27, the twins’ 24th birthday, their mother, Ayesha Qadri, sits by the side of his surviving son at an undisclosed location praying for his wellbeing, while their father protests outside the Karachi Press Club against the attack that took away one of his sons.
Just 25 days before the men were to turn 24, unidentified assassins attacked the twins at a tyre puncture shop near their home in Lyari’s Bihar Colony as they were on their way to sit an exam. While Haider was fortunate to survive the attack, Jamal wasn’t as lucky.
The family has been ripped apart. Dr Abdul Ghafoor Qadri has stopped going to his job at the Lyari General Hospital, where he has been working at least for the past 20 years. He has also closed his private clinic near his house. The family’s three-room flat in Bihar Colony is now vacant.
“We celebrated their last birthday by taking them outside for dinner and gave them presents also. Today, I am celebrating Jamal’s birthday crying at a roadside,” Dr Qadri said while talking to The Express Tribune.
Scores of people from Bihar Colony, Haider and Jamal’s friends and class fellows, activists of the Awami Jamhoori Party and Human Rights Network and members of the Hindu community, Maheshwari, joined the father’s call to arrest the killers at the protest.
Shouting slogans against the apathetic attitude of the law enforcement agencies, the protesters demanded the provincial government suspend police officers, who could not trace the assailants even after 25 days. Chanting catchphrases for justice and equality, they demanded security for Dr Qadri’s family.
“Will anyone please tell me what wrong did my sons do?” Dr Qadri addressed the protesters bursting into tears. “Innocent people are targeted daily but law enforcers have failed to arrest even a single attacker. It is the state responsibility to provide me justice because this is my right.”
HRN’s Intikhab Alam warned that the authorities arrest the killers within three days or face further consequences. “We are being compelled to expand our circle of protest,” he said. “Parents have been forced to leave their homes to beg for justice. This is enough now.”
“Dr Qadri respects and loves our children shunning all religious differences. He treated our families even when we had no money. Today, when he is in pain, we stand by his side,” said Werag Mal, who joined the protest along with his wife and a minor son.
“If a doctor cannot be given justice, how can a common man that too a non-Muslim feel safe?” Mal said. “We all are at risk and afraid of losing our right to live.”
Dr Qadri has shifted his family to another location and moved Haider at a relative’s place separately. “I [still] feel there is a threat. Haider can undergo emotional trauma when people visit our house and talk about the tragedy,” he said.
Though Haider can’t speak well after surgeries, police officials have called Dr Qadri to be allowed to record his statement.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2013.