LAHORE: Monday’s suicide bombing which claimed 26 lives, including those of nine policemen, leaving their families emotionally devastated. But terrorists don’t know that they cannot dent the morale of the police who are determined to stamp out the menace of terrorism.
“We would never bow down before these terrorists. We’ll fight them till our last breath,” says Zaheer Hussain, the head constable of the Anti-Riot Force of Lahore police, who had received shrapnel wounds in the blast.
The 26-year-old, who was operated upon for two ball bearings in his back, vows to avenge the death of his colleagues. “My mother wants me to get married. But after this suicide blast, my only mission is to avenge the death of my colleagues,” says Hussain while speaking to The Express Tribune from his bed at the Jinnah Hospital.
“As soon as I recover, I will go back to fight these savages.”
The powerful blast hit the busy Kot Lakhpat Sabzi Mandi on the bustling Ferozepur Road, blowing out the windows in nearby Arfa Karim Software Technology Park and other buildings. Nine of the victims were police who were clearing shopping stalls that had illegally encroached on to the road.
“We were standing under a tree when I spotted an auto rickshaw coming from the wrong side,” Hussain recalls. “I rushed to warn the driver fearing he might get hurt as heavy machinery was tearing down encroachment in the area.”
As soon as Hussain walked towards the rickshaw a loud explosion went off, tossing him on the ground. “I tried to get up but stooped over due to excruciating pain in my back,” says Hussain. “I looked around and found bodies lying everywhere and blood splattered.”
Hussain was driven to Ittifaq Hospital where medics referred him to Jinnah Hospital for a surgery. “We have buried nine of our colleagues, but I want to send out a message to terrorists that they cannot defeat our will to fight them,” says Hussain, who is the sole breadwinner of his family.
‘Your dad is going to office’
“Is my father sleeping? When will he get up?” Kashaf Batool, three-year-old daughter of Constable Ghulam Murtaza, asks her wailing mother while sitting in her lap near the coffin of her father.
Murtaza was among the nine policemen who were martyred along with 17 others in Monday’s suicide bombing on Ferozepur Road. “This little soul has no idea what tragedy has befallen us,” says Kashaf’s mother while choking on tears.
Kashaf was oblivious of the mourning at her home. She was playing with other children. It wasn’t just her father, her uncle, Constable Ali Raza, also died in the deadly blast. She was brought to the coffins to make her have the last glimpse of her father and uncle.
Kashaf’s innocent questions tore the hearts of the grieving family who burst into wailing and mourning. When the two coffins were being taken to the graveyard, Kashaf asked where were the people taking her father? “Your dad is going to office,” her mother tells her amid sobs.
Murtaza left behind his wife, daughter Kashaf and 6-month-old Ayyet.
“Ghulam Hussain and Ali Raza always sought their mother’s blessings before leaving for work,” brother Muhammad Mustafa recalls. Father Nazeer Hussain says his sons made him proud by sacrificing their lives for the country.
Distraught relatives carried the coffins of two martyred policemen brothers to a petrol pump which had been turned into a makeshift prayer ground. Floral wreaths from local police chiefs were placed on the wooden coffins as family members wept.
Families of other martyrs demanded action as they attended funerals.
“We demand from the government of Pakistan that those who are involved in this incident and those who are the facilitators should be hanged in public,” says Hafiz Naseerud Din, uncle of another martyred policeman.
“We came here in great grief,” adds Shaikh Rizwan, a local resident who attended the funeral prayers for some of the victims. “Twenty-six people were martyred here yesterday, I request my government that please uproot these terrorists fully so our country can progress,” he says.
Condition of the hospitals
Fifty-three people were also wounded in Monday’s blast. Top politicians, civil society members and army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the Lahore General Hospital to enquire after the survivors.
According to MS Professor Gias-un-Nabi Tayyab, medics at the hospital successfully operated upon eight survivors with critical wounds, while another nine survivors were being treated for their life-threatening injuries. “The state of emergency in the hospital will stay in place until the last surgery,” he says.
(With additional reporting by Rana Yasif)