HYDERABAD: As the nation celebrated its 67th independence day, violence in parts of Sindh restrained people from taking part in the festivities. At least three people were shot dead in Hyderabad, Jamshoro and Dadu, while around two dozen people were injured in cracker and firing attacks, which began on Tuesday night.
Almost all the districts in Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas division saw a certain degree of violence, yet some people celebrated the day with the usual fervour.
The Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz, a banned Sindhi nationalist party and believed to be the political wing of Sindhu Desh Liberation Army, had called a strike and observed a black day. The police officials attributed the attacks to the JSMM’s call.
“The attacks on rallies, stalls and market places have emerged as a new trend,” said Hyderabad SSP Saqib Ismail Memon. The police, he added, focused only on the railway tracks, branches of the National Bank of Pakistan and highways whenever they anticipated attacks by this group.
On Tuesday night, four assailants hurled a petrol bomb at a stall selling Pakistani flags, streamers and badges in Hyder Chowk area, which is a commercial and inter-city transport hub. The bomb, however, did not explode. The attackers came back and opened fire, leaving four vendors injured. One of them, 25-year-old Shoaib Ghori, later died at the hospital.
“There was a huge crowd at the stall. First they lobbed the bomb and when the people dispersed, they opened fire at us,” Iqbal Ghori, who was injured in the attack, told The Express Tribune. According to the police, the same group threw crackers in Latifabad, Liberty Chowk and Saddar areas.
Causalities and fatalities
At least five people, including three truck drivers, were also shot and injured in different areas of Hyderabad. Two drivers, Shahbaz Jat and Rafiqullah, were shot in the leg while the third Imran Salahuddin was shot three times.
The SSP said the police have arrested five workers of JSMM in connection with these attacks. Their identities were not disclosed till the filing of this report. The aerial firing and bomb attacks created panic in the city and Latifabad towns where the people from all parts of the district had gathered to celebrate the day. “We went into the city to join the celebration but suddenly there was commotion and people began moving out,” said Arshad Jatoi.
In Jamshoro, truck driver Abdul Ghafoor Khan, 50, was shot dead on the Indus Highway. Hazara Express, taking passengers from Karachi to Lahore, also came under fire in Kotri, injuring a passenger.
A milk shop owner, Hanif Arain, was killed in his shop in Dadu district. Separately, crackers were thrown outside a branch of NBP in Matiari district, at a bus in Benazirabad district and a shop selling flags and streamers in Badin district. “We are [still] collecting details about the total number of attacks,” said Hyderabad region DIG Naeem Akram Baroka, adding that at least 40 suspects belonging to the banned group have been arrested from the region’s nine districts.
According to the police, a security plan was issued to the SSPs in the region’s districts. “We did not expect that the miscreants will resort to killing people and throwing bombs at them,” said the DIG Baroka.
“It’s a conspiracy to destroy peace in Sindh,” said senior vice-president of Awami Tehreek, Abdul Qadir Ranto.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2013.