“Any attacker would first [have to] pass me to reach the building,” were the words of Riazuddin, a police head constable in his 40s who was deployed at the Peshawar Press Club. Riazuddin eventually lived up to his promise and embraced death to prevent an attack on the building on December 22, 2009.
A father of four, Riazuddin was a resident of Potwar Bala village located in the suburbs of Peshawar. He owned a piece of land in his ancestral village but was eager to join the police.
In 2007, Riazuddin was chosen as the sole policeman to guard the press club’s red-brick building as other officers found the posting boring. Riazuddin, however, carried out his duties enthusiastically and befriended many journalists.
On the afternoon of the attack, he was standing outside the building, checking those entering the press club as per his routine. Riazuddin became suspicious about a young man trying to enter the building hurriedly. The suspicion arose when he noticed that the man was wearing a vest.
When the man insisted he should be let inside, Riazuddin caught him and tried to overpower him. Unfortunately, the bomber managed to detonate the explosives, resulting in Riazuddin’s death. Another 20 were injured in the attack.
When the police examined video footage from close circuit cameras during investigation, it clearly showed that the sole policeman guarding the gate of the press club had stopped the suicide bomber from entering the premises. Otherwise, the bomber would have detonated the explosives inside the building.
“He was a nice man and was deployed in the press club since 2007. Once the press club’s president was angry at him and transferred him. But he was back in two months as he really liked his duty at the club,” said the then general secretary of Peshawar Press Club Jamshed Baghwan about Riazuddin.
In recognition of this sacrifice, his picture was put up on the wall of the bunker constructed with US funding after the attack on Peshawar Press Club.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2012.
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