At least four more of the people injured in violence between two groups in Godhra Camp succumbed to their injuries on Monday, bringing the death toll to eight.
Four people - Sohail, Ismail Abdullah, Noor Mohammad and Bilal - died and another six were injured as two sectarian groups exchanged fire in the limits New Karachi Industrial Area police late on Sunday night. A heavy contingent of police came in and blocked routes leading to Godhra. DSP Tahir Khan said that two religious groups, the Deobandis and Barelvis, clashed after a young Barelvi man named Noor Mohammad was gunned down.
“Mohammad Ayub, Hafiz Ahmed, Yousuf and a woman named Rizwana Suleman succumbed to their injuries during treatment at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital,” said SHO Ishtiaq Ghouri. “Three more people were admitted with critical injuries.”
The police and Rangers scoured the area and detained about 100 suspects in a joint operation but released most of them after initial questioning. Despite the operation and the increase in police presence in the area, tension prevailed in Godhra and life has yet to go back to normal.
District Central SSP Asim Qaimkhani confirmed that a total eight people were killed and that the victims were not affiliated with any group but were caught in the crossfire. He said that the fight between the Godhra communities is not only over a sectarian issue but personal enmities are also a factor. Meanwhile, three political workers including an alleged target killer were allegedly among the 100 people arrested. Playing things close to his chest, SSP Qaimkhani confirmed only 14 of the arrests and said it was too early to confirm religious affiliations. He also told The Express Tribune that cases have not yet been registered.
Residents demanded check posts in the area to put an end to these sporadic skirmishes.
According to Sunni Tehreek (ST) spokesman Fahim Qadri, his organisation is placing the blame at the doorstep of the banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), formerly known as Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). He said that two SSP activists, namely Shehzad aka Chatta and Javed Preedy, targeted and killed ST worker Noor Mohammad while he was standing at a mobile shop. Strict security measures were taken during Noor Mohammad’s funeral prayers offered after Zuhr prayers in Farooq-e-Azam Masjid and he was laid to rest in the Mohammad Shah graveyard.
For their part, however, ASWJ spokesman Maulana Taj Hanfi denied the accusations and said that his organisation had no link with the incident. He said it was simply a clash between people of the Deoband school of thought with the ST and the ST is simply trying to involve the ASWJ. He said that no one from his organisation was killed, injured or arrested.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2011.