In view of the blast at an Imambargah a day earlier, the Sindh government has imposed a ban on the use of motorcycles within a radius of 500 metres from imambargahs in Karachi during Muharram. All shops within the same perimeter would also be closed down.
The notification issued by the Sindh home department Monday night comes when the court has already overruled the government’s move to ban motorcycles across the city.
Two people died and over a dozen more were injured on Sunday when a powerful bomb planted on a motorcycle exploded near the Jamia Masjid Imambargah Mustafa in Abbas Town - a Shia-dominated area already declared sensitive by the law enforcement agencies.
The case of the attack (FIR No. 703/12) was registered on behalf of one of the victims’ brother, Zafar Hussain, at the Sacchal police station. The complainant nominated unidentified suspects placing sections of 302 (murder), 324 (attempt to murder) and 427 (damaging property) of the Pakistan Penal Code. Police have also included Section 7 of the anti-terrorism act and sections 4/5 of the explosive act. The FIR states that the bomb was a remote-controlled one and was planted on a motorcycle parked outside a milk shop situated near the mosque.
Contrary to the Rangers spokesperson claims that five paramilitary soldiers were injured in the blast, the FIR states the name of only one Rangers officer, Siddique. The Rangers personnel were deployed on the main road not near the blast site, Sacchal DSP Qamar Ahmed told The Express Tribune.
Scouts deployed for the Imambargah’s security and witnesses at the site also claimed that the overall security was in the hands of Shia scouts and police and Rangers were only on the backup. The paramilitary soldiers were a few hundred feet away from the mosque, they claimed.
“When the Rangers were deployed near the Paradise Bakery, how could they have been injured in the blast,” said Ali Abbas, one of the members of the Imambargah’s security protocol. “They were injured in clashes with the protesters after the bomb went off.”
The Rangers spokesman, however, was adamant that five security personnel were also among the injured of the bomb attack.
Bomb experts say
The person behind the bomb attack may have been arrested from the spot if there had been a proper surveillance mechanism and adequate number of law enforcers deployed, say bomb disposal experts.
According to the findings of the Bomb Disposal Squad, the explosive device was a remote-controlled one and the suspect must have been present within 100 metre of the bomb to detonate it. The explosives were similar to the ones previously used at the Chinese consulate, Suparco bus attacks and Hyderi blasts, a senior BDS expert told The Express Tribune.
Two cameras at the site were set up by the Shia community. The authorities have not installed CCTV cameras to scour the area for potential threats despite declaring Abbas Town as a sensitive area.
While DSP Qamar Ahmed claimed that the cameras were not functioning, sources privy to the investigation told The Express Tribune that the CCTV footage has been obtained and investigators are going through the recording.
The young man who parked the motorcycle was wearing black shalwar-kameez to merge into the crowd of mourners, SSP Farooq Awan, the special investigation unit chief, said. Some suspects have also been detained, who are being interrogated.
Abbas Hussain, who was sitting near the milk shop when the explosives went off, was laid to rest at the Wadi-e-Hussain graveyard on Super Highway after his funeral was held in Abbas Town under strict security. A large number of people including Shia scholars also attended the prayers.
The body of the milkman was sent to his hometown in Multan for burial.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2012.