KARACHI: About 100 suspects from two religious organisations, one of them banned, were apprehended in a surprise overnight crackdown, following the killings of two scouts at Numaish Chowrangi on Sunday afternoon.
Azhar Hussain and Zain Ali were killed while Ayaz was injured when armed motorcyclists opened fire at a scouts camp at Numaish Chowrangi. It is believed that activists of the banned organisation were behind the attack since they held their annual Yaum-e-Omar rally at Tibet Centre earlier in the day.
Later, the Rangers and police cracked down on the SSP - that works under the new name Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat (ASWJ), and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) activists.
The first stop was the ASWJ central office, Jama Masjid Siddiq-e-Akbar, at Nagan Chowrangi. Four suspects were arrested, including, two sons of slain central leader, Maulana Abdul Ghaffoor Nadeem.
The father and son of the president of ASWJ’s Karachi division, Maulana Rab Nawaz, were apprehended from Old Golimar. Maulana Allah Wasaya’s two sons were caught from Jama Masjid Gulzar-e-Habib in Korangi, the president of district East, Maulana Saeed Akbar, from Ameer Mavia Masjid in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Maulana Habibur Rehman from Shershah and Hafiz Ramzan was taken into custody from Jama Masjid Noor in Jubilee area.
Mosques, madrassahs and homes were also raided in North Karachi, Korangi, Shah Faisal Colony, Landhi, Malir, Nazimabad and New Karachi.
Around 42 suspects, arrested from Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Masjid, remained in police custody while the remaining 28, which included women and children, were released. Four others, who were involved in violence, are also in police custody. The ASWJ condemned the crackdown and claimed it was a conspiracy against the organisation by the government, law enforcement agencies and their rival groups. Their spokesman, Maulana Taj Hanafi, said that two workers, Omar Farooq and Munir, were attacked and injured by a rival group near Imambargah Ali Raza on MA Jinnah Road when they were returning from the party’s rally. The scouts were targeted later by unidentified men.
“When our people were shot at, they ran for their lives and took refuge in a mosque,” he said. “That is when unidentified culprits shot and killed the scouts.”
He confirmed that his party’s workers were detained. He warned of a protest on MA Jinnah Road on Ashura if they were not released till Monday night. “Over 100 of our innocent workers were arrested without any reason,” Hanafi said. “When we tried to find out the reason, the government told us that they were pressured politically and by our rival groups, and they had to do it.”
According to investigators, the scouts were shot dead after they had an argument with four ASWJ men. The police went through the footage from the 18 closed-circuit cameras installed at Numaish Chowrangi. It showed that four men with an ASWJ flag and riding two motorcycles were stopped by the boy scouts for checking when they were returning from the Yaum-e-Omar rally.
“The boys stopped them for checking and they exchanged hot words,” said a source. “During the argument, an ASWJ flag fell down, after which they opened fire.”
Karachi AIG Ghulam Shabbir Sheikh confirmed this but declined to share more details. A special team was set up for investigating the killings and the violence that followed. However, the cases, for murder and violence still have to be registered at Soldier Bazaar and Brigade police stations. The police were waiting for the families to register the murder cases and an order from the government for lodging a case for the violence.
Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan visited Numaish Chowrangi after he met with the Shia leaders. He assured them of strict action against the miscreants. He said that around 51 suspects involved in the attack were caught and they will be exposed soon in the FIR.
The funeral prayers of the scouts were offered in Khairul Aman Imambargah at Ancholi on Sunday night. Azhar Hussain was laid to rest at Wadi-e-Hussain Graveyard while Zain Ali was later buried in Chakwal, his hometown. Scores of people who came to attend the funeral also staged a protest at Shara-e-Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2011.
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