LARKANA: Following the final rites of three Hindus who were shot dead on Monday in Shikarpur district, upper Sindh, the Hindu community shut their business in protest and announced an indefinite strike till those responsible for the killing are brought to book. They also announced three days of mourning.
The shooting incident took place on Eid day (Monday) when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a clinic killing three members of the Hindu community including a doctor and two businessmen and injuring two others, police said.
(Read: Three Hindu doctors gunned down on Eid, Sindh observes mourning)
The dead were identified as Dr Ajit Kumar while the two businessmen were identified as Naresh Kumar and Ashok Kumar. The doctor and the businessmen were friends. Meanwhile, another doctor Satahpal, who had sustained a gunshot wound has been shifted to Karachi.
The final rites of the dead took place on Tuesday at the Sathu Bela temple near Sukkur. Members of Hindu community alleged that police had been patronising the criminals.
The Hindu community in Shikarpur had been in conflict with the Muslim Bhayo community over an alleged case of sexual assault. The Muslim community alleged that three members of the Hindu community had sexually assaulted a girl from their community a few weeks ago and the Muslim community wanted to exact revenge.
The two communities had been locked in talks seeking a compromise. The three boys from the Hindu community were arrested after a police raid found them together with a hired dancing girl. Before a resolution could be reached, gunmen fired upon and killed a Hindu doctor and two businessmen, relatives to the arrested Hindu men.
Dr Pardeep, a relative of the victims, told The Express Tribune that people belonging to the Bhayo community used to extort the Hindu community passing around “chits” to the Hindu families in the Chak town with demands inscribed. While the extortion sum had been paid on numerous occasions, the community had stopped giving the sum for the past few months. “They would ask us to either pay the money or face consequences,” Dr Pradeep added.
“It was a high profile case (the arrests) and people of Bhayo community were seeking revenge from the Hindus,” Pitanbar Sewani, an elected representative of the Hindu community belonging to Sukkur district said. Hindu community alleged that despite numerous requests, the Police had failed to provide them with adequate protection, “we have asked the police for protection many times, but DPO Shikarpur did not listen to us,” he said.
With regards to the case and charges of sexual assault on those arrested, Sewani said that there was no medical report that proved rape had taken place, “we tried our best for a compromise to be reached and avert any bloodshed, however people of the Bhayo community refused and said they will take revenge,” he said.
The case has gained significance with ministers and MNA being sent to look into the matter with apparently direct orders from President Zardari himself. Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Ramesh Lal and Sindh Minister for Minority Affairs Dr Mohan Lal Kohistani attended the final rites of the deceased. Afterwards, while speaking to the media, they said that they had arrived on the directives of President Zardari and assured the Hindu community that the culprits would be arrested soon.
Talking to The Express Tribune DIG Larkana Saen Rakhio Mirani said that they had arrested 13 suspects. “The relatives of deceased have not lodged a case. Once a case is lodged we will arrest the culprits irrespective of what their influence is,” he said.
Meanwhile, various nationalist parties in Sindh have demanded the arrest of the gunmen within 72 hours, following which they will announce a province wide strike.