Chiniot city police on Wednesday claimed to have arrested 18 suspects in the killing of a Shiite leader who was gunned down in an Imambargah on Monday by six armed men. Two boys were also shot and taken to a hospital. One of them is reported to be in critical condition.
The deceased, Malik Mukhtar Hussain, was a prominent licensed organiser of Shiite processions and majalis in Chiniot. Police said that the men had entered Imambargah Qasr-i-Abu Talib near Chowk Shori Pipli in Rangraizan Colony on three motorcycles, shot Hussain, who was at a mourning session, and fled. Two boys, who were standing nearby, were also hit.
The injured were rushed to the district headquarters hospital, from where Hussain was shifted to Allied Hospital in Faisalabad. He, however, succumbed to his injuries on the way.
He had been shot several times in the chest and once in the head, doctors who had treated him at DHQ hospital told The Express Tribune.
The injured were identified as Muazzam Ali, 16, and Zeeshan Ali, 17.
Doctors treating them said that Muazzam had been put on a ventilator and remained in a critical condition.
He had been shot in the chest and neck. Zeeshan, who was shot in the chest, was also reported to be in critical condition.
Syed Shahan Raza, one of the participants of the session, told The Express Tribune via telephone that there was some disturbance at the police picket that marks the beginning of the Imambargah premises since the compound does not have a gate.
He said Hussain had left the session and approached towards the picket to inquire about the noise.
“When he was about 100 metres from the picket, the men opened fire at him and fled. Two children were also hit.”
He said a stampede followed.
District Police Officer Zameerul Hassan called it a “sectarian murder”.
An FIR has been registered against six men, including Chauhdry Zulfiqar Jutt, a noted local businessman, under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 780-A of the Anti Terrorism Act. None of the prime suspects has been arrested so far.
The DPO said that police teams had been set up and directed to raid Sambrial, Chawinda, Sialkot and Faisalabad.
He said City Station House Officer Naveed Murtaza had been suspended from service after the incident and replaced by Ghulam Abbas.
A number of protests have been held in the city following the incident.
Locals say that sectarian tensions in the area had risen since September, 2012 after a banned militant outfit’s former district president Hafiz Abu Bakar was killed.
Malik Mukhtar Hussain had owned a catering business. He is survived by a wife and a son.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2013.