Following the deaths of three young men of Pakistani origin in Birmingham on Wednesday, their bereaved families back home are trying to come to terms with the unexpected loss.
Two brothers and a friend were killed when a carload of suspected looters rammed into them during the ongoing riots in the central English city, officials said. Eyewitnesses said, however, that the three died while trying to protect their community from looters.
The three men were identified as Shehzad Hussain, his brother Mussavir Ali and their friend Haroon Jahan.
A distressed grandfather of the two boys, Muhammad Ziafat, sits at home in his native town in Gulyani, recalling the last time he saw his grandsons. “They were such obedient boys. Shehzad married a girl from his native town in Pakistan just eight months ago,” he said while talking to Express News.
Ziafat lives in Gulyani in Gujjar Khan near Jehlum with his daughter. The rest of their family permanently settled in England over 40 years ago.
“The loss was unbearable … but delaying their burial would be even more painful,” said Ziafat, beside with grief at the very idea that he will never get to see his two grandsons again. They will be buried in England, he says.
Reacting to news of the bodies being handed over to their respective families in England after five days, the distraught man appealed to British authorities, asking them to release the bodies of his grandsons “as soon as possible, for their final rites”.
Ziafat received the heartbreaking news early Wednesday morning, when his 40-year-old grandson, Ghazanfar Ali, called him up soon after the incident. He was told that the two brothers were hit by a car “outside a mosque, right after offering their taraweeh prayers”.
While foreign media reports claimed that the victims were part of a group protecting the area from looters, Ziafat said he hoped, along with many others from Gulyani, that it was “just an accident”.
“It wasn’t clear as to who killed them … or why. I was told that the police had arrested a man and were trying to investigate if the incident was the part of the ongoing riots in England,” Ziafat said.
The father of Haroon Jahan, Tariq Jahan, tried to calm down the anger among the Pakistani community in Birmingham, urging locals not to take revenge and called for the law to be allowed to take its course.
“I don’t blame the government, I don’t blame the police, I don’t blame anybody,” said the anguished father.
“I’m a Muslim, I believe in divine fate and destiny,
and it was his [Jahan’s] destiny and his fate, and now he’s gone.” (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2011.