LAHORE: Organiser of Shia religious activities and license holder for the main mourning processions in Chiniot, Malik Mukhtar Hussain, was allegedly target killed by six armed men during a mourning procession which was underway on December 31.
Six gunmen on three motorbikes had barged into the vicinity of Imambargah Qasr-e-Abu Talib located in Chowk Shori Pipli area in Muhallah Rangraizan and opened fire at Hussain.
Two teenage devotees were also injured in the attack that took place during the mourning procession for the death of the 8th Imam of Shias.
Eye witnesses told the The Express Tribune that although the imambargah compound does not have a gate, security was beefed up by police. They added that the gunmen tried to forcibly enter the compound and succeeded in crossing the police check point, eye witnesses said.
Syed Shahan Raza, devotee and eye witness of the incident told The Express Tribune via telephone that, Hussain had walked past him, moving towards the entrance point of the imambargah to inquire why there was a clamour when the armed motorcyclists opened fire at him.
Raza said he went to the DHQ Hospital with Hussain and that he had to be shifted to Allied Hospital in Faisalabad, but Hussain succumbed to his injuries on the way. Raza added, “Hussain had received several bullets including one in the head.”
34-year-old Hussain owned a catering business and leaves behind a young son and a wife.
The incident took place between 10:45pm to 11:00pm on Monday.
An FIR against the gunmen was lodged under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 780 A of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Station House Officer of the concerned police station, Naveed Murtaza, was suspended as a result of “negligence” in this incident. District Police Officer Zameerul Hassan said, “We have been working on this case since Hussain was murdered.”
The newly inducted SHO of the police Station, Ghulam Abbas, told The Express Tribune that the police have not yet managed to arrest any of the suspects named in the FIR, however, he said that the police was conducting raids.
The two teenagers, identified as Muazzam Ali, 16 and Zeeshan Ali, 17, came under fire because they were standing behind Hussain in the procession.
Muazzam was put on a ventilator late last night owing to critical injuries he sustained in the chest and neck. Zeeshan was also injured with a bullet that pierced through his chest.
Members of the Shia community of Chiniot told The Express Tribune that the attackers abandoned their bikes at the imambargah and managed to evade the police. They identified one of the attackers as Chauhdry Zulfiqar Jutt, a former Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan district-level leader. Jutt has a criminal record.
Locals said that sectarian tensions in the area had increased after the murder of banned militant outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba’s former district president Hafiz Abubakar in September, 2012.
In the month of Ramazan during August 2012, founder of banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and now the Vice President of Ahl-e-Sunnat-Wal-Jammat, Malik Ishaq, visited a mosque in Chiniot and an FIR was registered against him on charges of inciting hatred by delivering speeches that fueled sectarian tensions in the area.