KARACHI: A former Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senator, Faisal Raza Abidi, was arrested by law enforcers late Friday night over his alleged involvement in sectarian killings in Karachi that took place recently and in the past as well.
The police and Rangers, who came in at least 10 vehicles, raided Abidi’s residence in New Rizvia Society, which falls in District East, late Friday night. Heavy weapons, including a G-3 rifle and sub-machine guns (SMGs), were also recovered during the half-an-hour long search before he was shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation. The forensic reports of the recovered weapons suggest that they have not been used in any criminal activity, said the investigation officer of the Patel Para incident, Sardar Ahmed Abbasi. Further examinations of the weapons are also being carried out.
On Friday, six people, including two prayer leaders belonging to the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam – Fazl (JUI-F), were shot dead in three separate attacks within the span of one hour. Two JUI-F workers were killed in Patel Para while three ASWJ workers, including a prayer leader at Shafiq Morr and a prayer leader in Hyderi, were gunned down apparently by the same group.
Same weapon used
“The forensic reports of the empty shells of the pistol suggest that the same weapon was used in all three incidents,” confirmed Abbasi. “But it is not necessary that the same assailants were behind all three incidents. We are also trying to get [closed-circuit television] CCTV [camera] footage and witness statements to verify the forensic report.”
All the cases of Friday’s series of attacks have been registered against unidentified persons. Though police officials were reluctant to share details about Abidi’s detainment, sources in the police said that he was taken into custody for his alleged involvement in the recent wave of sectarian killings. “[There is] some evidence against Abidi and he was taken into custody with the help of an intelligence agency,” explained a police official privy to the matter. “We are also examining his mobile phone and laptop and are questioning him to verify if he is involved or not.”
Abidi, known for his firebrand speeches for his former party, the PPP, resigned from the Senate in 2014. According to sources, he was detained because investigators found some clues about his involvement, particularly in the Patel Para killings of the JUI-F workers. FIR No 379/16 for the double murder was registered at Jamshed Quarters police station under Section 302 (murder), read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act on the complaint of the victims’ relative, Ghulam Mohammed, against unidentified persons.
Two worshippers – Abdul Baqi and Amin Muhammad – affiliated with the JUI-F were targeted at Patel Para in Jamshed Quarters when they were returning home after offering Friday prayers. Both the victims were religious teachers at Madinatul Uloom seminary at Hub Chowk. Their funeral prayers were offered on Saturday in their hometown in Khuzdar, Balochistan. “We don’t know who killed them or why,” the victims’ colleague, Hidayatullah, told The Express Tribune.
No ‘third force’
Meanwhile, a senior police official maintained that the notion of a ‘third force’ spreading sectarian violence is mostly a farce.
The three-year-long Karachi operation mostly failed to curb sectarian violence in the city, as law enforcers did not focus on sectarian groups during the operation. In Muharram, nearly half a dozen members of the Shia community were killed and several others were wounded in several attacks. Investigators, nonetheless, failed to probe even a single attack.
However, six people belonging to the rival sectarian group were killed on Friday in what appears to be a ‘tit-for-tat’ sectarian violence. “When Shia people were being killed in the city, the police and Rangers arrested ASWJ central leader Maulana Taj Hanfi,” said a senior police official requesting anonymity. “Similarly, they arrested Abidi over the Sunnis’ killings. So, it means that these are tit-for-tat killings and there is no excuse of using the name of a third force.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2016.