Traders shuttered their shops in the city on Friday to protest a deadly bomb attack on a bus carrying Shia pilgrims a day earlier.
Fourteen pilgrims from the Hazara community, including women, were killed in the attack which, police believe, was carried out by a suicide bomber. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi sectarian extremist group claimed responsibility for the carnage.
The Hazara Democratic, Tahfuz-e-Izadari Council, Tehreek Nifaz-i-Fiqa-e-Jaffaria and Balochistan Shia Conference had given the call for Friday’s strike which was supported by trader unions and political parties.
All business centres and shopping malls in downtown areas, including Jinnah Road, Abdul Sattar Road, Kansi Road, Alamdar Road, Thoughy Road, Brewery Road, Mission Road, McChangi Road, Prince Road, Liaquat Bazaar, Fatima Jinnah Road and Masjid Road, remained closed throughout the day.
Attendance in government offices, banks and semi-government establishments remained very thin. Heavy contingents of law-enforcement agencies were deployed in parts of the city to maintain order. Law enforcers detained a dozen people for bullying shopkeepers and forcing them to shut their shops in different neighbourhoods of the city.
Members from the Hazara community also staged a protest demonstration at Brewery Road, where they burnt tyres and blocked the road to register their protest against Thursday’s attack. They chanted slogans against the provincial government and demanded the immediate arrest of the culprits.
Meanwhile, funeral prayers for the victims were offered at Alamadar Road and Hazara graveyard on Friday.
HRCP condemns killings
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has accused the government of neglect in countering terrorist activities aimed at targeting citizens for their religious affiliations. In a statement issued on Friday, the HRCP regretted the loss of life and injuries caused in Thursday’s attack on Shia pilgrims.
A similar attack occurred in Mastung last year, over which the government failed to take action, the HRCP said in the statement. It regretted that the attack occurred on the bus despite it being escorted by the police.
The HRCP claimed that with more than 60 Shias killed in Balochistan this year, the government had either been ‘unwilling’ or ‘unable’ to prevent the killings. (With additional reporting by Aroosa Shaukat in Lahore)
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2012.