Sehwan bleeds: Mourning the dead, nursing the wounded

Volunteer watchman lashes out at police for ‘not performing duties sincerely’

Emotionally-charged people were comparing the scenario to the battle of Karbala. Others felt it was meant to happen because the authorities never bothered to listen to their concerns. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

SEHWAN: There was a woman arguing with a female security volunteer inside the shrine when, it is said, another burka-clad woman blew herself up.

Muhammad Rafi, 25, a volunteer watchman at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar's shrine in Sehwan Sharif shared this account. According to him, may be the saint knows who carried out the deadly bombing.

He went on to lash out at the police for 'not performing their duties sincerely'. "You will see a dozen of policemen escorting a man in white starched cotton clothes," he said. "But here at the shrine, only a few policemen were posted and they didn't even perform their duties sincerely."

Scene of crime

The greyish-white marble floor of the courtyard of the shrine seemed to have been mopped with blood. Traces of human flesh were stuck onto the wall. The air contained the stench of a slaughterhouse.

A few hours ago, the bodies of the devotees were strewn about disintegrated and complete in the case of lucky ones. Some were running over the fallen. Others were trying to pick them up. A bloodbath had occurred.

Sehwan shrine attack: Best friends faced death hand in hand

Emotionally charged people were calling it Karbala and cursing the descendants of the Yazid. Others felt differently - for them it was meant to happen because the authorities never bothered to listen to their concerns.

A suicide bomber, perhaps accompanied by more, had blown her/himself up amidst a crowd of men, women and children preparing for a Thursday evening dhamal at the Qadeemi Gate courtyard.

"This happened at around 7pm," shared 40-year-old Ghulam Hyder Solangi, a vendor who sells sacred souvenirs near the shrine. "At first, we thought that the generator has blown up. Later, we saw people running heedlessly and some of them in a pool of blood. We rushed inside." The scene was inexplicable, he added. "No one was there to help. No policeman, no rescuer. We managed everything on our own. Qingqi rickshaws were called in to shift the dead and the injured to hospital."

Sikandar Ali, 56, devoting his time as a cleaner at the shrine, had a more horrifying detail to share. According to him, he saw an apparently dead pregnant woman delivering a baby. He burst into tears as he shared this.

"I witnessed a glimpse of what Doomsday can be," he said, trying to compose himself. "Cruelty was at its peak. The bomber and his facilitators are not humans. Who can do this?"

Sehwan doctors recall scenes of horror

Most of the people living in the vicinity complained similarly. They said that the security arrangements at the shrine were inadequate. The authorities were intimated a number of times, especially after the Shah Noorani incident, but all in vain.

The floor inside the shrine carries black marks as multiple splinters had hit it. According to a police investigator, casualties would have been much more if the bomber had exploded in the middle of the courtyard.

The blades of the ceiling fan right above the site of the bombing have been deformed. The brain of the alleged suicide bomber hung over the nearest CCTV camera inside the shrine. The head lay in a corner.

'Premature to ascertain bomber's gender'

Senior police officer SSP Raja Umar Khattab, who visited the site along with his team, said that it is premature to ascertain the gender of the bomber. He, however, said that around eight to 10 kilogrammes of explosives were used in the blast.

The investigators have obtained footages from nearly all the 40 cameras installed in and around premises.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2017.


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