While the rest of the country observed Eid Miladun Nabi in the spirit of unity, a man was shot dead and 14 others were injured as two rival sectarian groups clashed in Mansehra. The injured include a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) and three constables, while the deceased was identified as Muhammad Naseem.
Criminal cases have been registered against a member of the provincial assembly (MPA), a prayer leader and over a dozen others from both parties. However, no arrests were made till the filing of this report.
The city police quoted Maulana Alhabibul Malik of the Jamaat Ahle Sunnat (JAS) as saying that a group of seminary students of Sunehri Mosque and activists of JUI-F pelted stones at participants of the main procession of Eid Miladun Nabi, which resulted in a clash between the parties.
The complainant accused JUI-F MPA Mufti Kifyatullah and the seminary head, Maulana Faizul Bari, for the attack, saying that the attackers opened fire at the procession, killing one of their workers on the spot and injuring several others.
“Everyone was pelting stones and firing automatic weapons,” said an eyewitness, adding that the police had to resort to heavy shelling and baton charges to control the situation. Four police personnel including DSP Ejaz Khan Goga were injured.
Later, JAS members blocked the Karakoram Highway to protest against the MPA and other attackers, suspending traffic for over two hours. They eventually dispersed after a case was registered against Kifayatullah and Bukhari, but threatened to launch another protest if the attackers were not arrested within 15 days.
In the past few years, sectarian tensions between JAS and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat of the JUI-F have been simmering over the Eid Miladun Nabi procession. Last year, at least seven people including a sub-inspector were injured when the two groups clashed at the same location.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2012.
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