GUJRAT: Seven men including the brother of a union-council former nazim were arrested by Kunjah police on Friday night for shooting at a procession killing two men and injuring 13.
The deceased were identified as 16-year-old Saqib and 18-year-old Dilawar. The injured, including a police constable Dilawar, were taken to Aziz Bhatti Shaheed Hospital in Gujrat and three referred to a hospital in Lahore.
Several charged protesters set fire to the Mangowal police check post, burning a police vehicle, several motorcycles and check post furniture. They said the police had failed to take action against Matta brothers and remained a silent observer.
Gujrat district police officer Ahmed Kauser has suspended station house officer Arif Gondal and the check post in-charge.
The Friday’s rally had been organised to protest an attack on an earlier procession taken out on Wednesday in connection with the Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi. Pakistan Muslim League (N) politicians Chaudary Raza Matta and Zulfiqar Matta and some supporters were alleged to have attacked the procession when it was passing through Kot Matta.
Raza Matta and six alleged accomplices arrested on Friday night under the Anti-Terrorism Act were shifted to Kharian Cantt police station for investigation. The FIR was registered against nine named men, including former union-council nazim Zulfiqar Matta, and 16 unidentified supporters.
The Matta brothers were also named in the FIR registered after the attack on Eid-e-Milad procession on Wednesday. The FIR was registered under Sections 295, 295-A,295-C, 452 and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Munir Ahmed, a Kot Matta resident, said the procession was organised by children belonging to Kot Matta, Mangowal and Kunjah. He said the Mattas and their men intercepted the procession when it was passing by their village. “The procession included people from both Ahle Sunnat and Shia sects,” he said. Ahmed said Raza Matta belonged to Ahle Hadith sect and had opposed the procession. On Wednesday, he said, Matta forced some of the rival clerics to apologise for supporting the procession.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Superintendent of Police (Headquarters) Saeed Ahmed rejected that religious differences were a factor in the incident. He said it was fuelled by political differences.
Raza Matta said Amjad Butt of Pakistan Peoples Party and his supporters were behind the clashes.
He said Butt, his political rival, had provoked people to march on his village. He also accused Butt and his men of shooting on the procession.
Butt denied the allegations. He said he wasn’t at the village on Friday. However, he also said the matter involved religious beliefs and accused Mattas of hurting Shia sentiments.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2011.
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