KARACHI: One year on since the October 7 twin suicide bombings on Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine, 20-year-old Hafeez Ali carries on with the daily drudgery of his job along with the wounds he suffered that day from shrapnel to the leg.
He continues to collect, number and watch over the hundreds of dirty shoes that devotees temporarily entrust him with upon entering the shrine to pay their respects. Although each pair brings Rs10 to the revenue generated from the shrine, the salary of this daily wager is Rs200, the same it was a year ago.
When asked how he was, Hafeez smiled and said he was just glad that a media person had remembered his name. He didn’t charge 10 rupees from this correspondent. But the smile quickly threatened to turn into tears when he was asked about his cousin Ihsan Ali who was with him that fatal day.
“After the incident, Ihsan left for our village in Mirpurkhas and will not return. He can barely move.” Like Hafeez, Ihsaan used to work at the shrine. However, his wounds were more severe and today, according to his relatives, he is crippled and can barely move.
The double tragedy for Hafeez and Ihsaan’s families is that not only did they suffer a terrorist strike but also their entire village in Mirpurkhas has been swept away by the floods.
“I brought my immediate family to our small rented house in Hijrat Colony, but Ihsaan and his family are still stranded there,” said Hafeez. According to another family member, who also works at the shrine, Ashiq Ali, even though they barely make ends meet, they told Ihsaan to join them instead of living at a relief camp. Their house rent is about Rs5,000 a month.
But the teenage Ihsaan is more traumatised by the blast than the floods and was adamant that he would not return to the city come what may. “In the end, we left Ihsaan at the mercy of our landlord Mir Haji Amin outside his bungalow and one can only pray that they are safe,” said Ali.
Meanwhile, just like numerous other such cases, investigators admit that they haven’t been able to crack this one. “There have been no arrests,” said Special Investigation Unit’s SSP Raja Umer Khattab. For his part though Crime Investigation Department SSP Fayyaz Khan’s insists that two of the main Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan suspects have escaped to Waziristan.
The case remains unsolved to this day. But investigators insist this is nothing out of the ordinary. Their common theory about the incident is that while the TTP accepted responsibility for the attack, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi men were the local handlers. But questions such as who they were, how many were involved and where did they plan the attack are still unanswered.
The only good to come from the attack is that the previously missing CCTV cameras have now been installed. “Fourteen out of the 16 cameras are in working condition,” said Auqaf administrator Mohammad Nusrat Khan, who is in charge of the shrine and was busy receiving bouquet after bouquet from religious party representatives at his office on Friday.
He did admit though that none of them were high-definition cameras, which is what the security agencies had advised them to install.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2011.
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