Targeted: KU Islamic Studies dean shot dead

Published: September 18, 2014
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People carrying the body of Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj for funeral prayers. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN/EXPRESS

People carrying the body of Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj for funeral prayers. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Professor Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj, the outspoken dean of Islamic Studies Faculty at the University of Karachi, is no longer with us.

On Thursday, the 54-year-old scholar was silenced by a single 9mm bullet in Gulshan-e-Iqbal when he was on the way to attend a ceremony that was being organised in his honour at the Khana-e-Farhang Iran [Iranian Cultural Centre].

The tragic incident followed the killing of Dr Maulana Masood Baig, another teacher of the same faculty, who was targeted in a similar fashion in North Nazimabad a week earlier, said Gulshan-e-Iqbal Superintendent of Police, Abid Qaimkhani.

Dr Auj had left his KU staff colony residence in a metallic-grey Toyota Probox station wagon along with the varsity’s Mass Communication department head, Prof Dr Tahir Masood, his 12-year-old niece and one of his students, Dr Amna, who had earned a doctorate under his supervision. All four were seated in the rear seat of the vehicle.

Prof Masood, who was sitting beside Dr Auj in the wagon, told The Express Tribune that as soon as the vehicle descended the NIPA Chowrangi flyover, two loud bangs, one after the other, were heard from the back.

“When I turned behind, I saw two holes in the wagon’s rear windshield,” he said. “One of the bullets had pierced through Dr Auj’s head to hit the front windshield, and the other hit Dr Amna in the arm.”

Aziz Bhatti SHO Sarfaraz Alyana confirmed Prof Masood’s version, and said that unidentified assailants, riding a motorcycle, fired two bullets at the vehicle’s rare from close distance.

Dr Masood asked the driver to rush the vehicle towards the nearby Aga Khan University Hospital, where the doctors pronounced Dr Auj dead.

The police is investigating the murder from various angles, including the ongoing sectarian target killings in the city, as well as the blasphemy accusations that surfaced against Dr Auj around two years ago, said East district SSP Pir Mohammad Shah.

On November 6, 2012, Dr Auj had registered an FIR 460/12 in the Mobina Town police station, stating that a message, declaring him guilty of blasphemy, and thus liable to be killed, was circulated via a mobile phone number, 0303 273 8856.

The FIR, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, stated that the deceased professor wanted the police to take legal action against those responsible for circulating this message because the accusation of blasphemy with the explicit words ‘Dr Shakil Auj maloun ki saza, sar tan se juda [Beheading is the punishment of accursed Dr Shakeel Auj]’ could get him killed.

Later, during police investigations, the names of four of Dr Auj’s colleagues, including a former dean of Islamic Studies Faculty, Dr Abdul Rasheed, surfaced for their alleged involvement in the circulation of these text messages.

Dr Rasheed was formally arrested by the police under Section 25 of the Telegraph Act and Section 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code in the case pertaining to sending objectionable text messages to Dr Auj through a third person. He was, however, granted bail by a judicial magistrate on November 28, 2012 in the case.

“It still remains a very serious matter. We cannot proceed with the investigations without reverting to the four colleagues and interrogating them yet again,” said SSP Shah. “And it may be that someone was not happy with the orientation of his research.”

Meanwhile, Karachi police chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo formed a committee under the supervision of the East district DIG Munir Ahmed Shaikh to investigate the high-profile murder. SSP Shah, SSP Specialised Investigation Unit Farooq Awan, East district Investigations SP Abdul Hameed Khoso, and CID counter-terrorism unit incharge Raja Umar Khattab, will assist DIG Shaikh.

Last month on the occasion of Independence Day, Dr Auj was awarded Tamgha-e-Imtiaz by the President of Pakistan for his contributions to the field of education. He had also been conferred the Doctor of Letters.

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Reader Comments (38)

  • Parvez
    Sep 18, 2014 - 11:35AM

    …….and the implosion of religion continues.

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  • Tariq Ghouri
    Sep 18, 2014 - 12:21PM

    Is this democracy we fight for? where the life of teacher is not safe? we call teacher spiritual father, so sad … our so called democracy could not safe him… May God bless our future ….

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  • Khurram
    Sep 18, 2014 - 12:33PM

    another victim of religiuos extremism….shame on us

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  • Aiman Kay
    Sep 18, 2014 - 12:47PM

    There is brain drain as people leave the country and whoever chose to remain are being killed so it is double brain drain.

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  • Sid
    Sep 18, 2014 - 12:54PM

    Alas! another lose of an educated person and govt. is nowhere! May Allah rest him in peace.

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  • Faisal
    Sep 18, 2014 - 12:55PM

    Sectarian killing???

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  • Sep 18, 2014 - 1:06PM

    So sad to hear this. He was indeed a very honest man and a devoted teacher.
    May his soul rest in peace.

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  • nkhan
    Sep 18, 2014 - 1:14PM

    One of our most competent CM once said…. We are able to make Karachi a crime free zone……These leader would be questioned in the day of judgement, they have taken their leadership granted…….
    May Allah rest Dr Auj’s soul in peace……..

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  • Moiz Omar
    Sep 18, 2014 - 1:25PM

    Rest in peace.

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  • Roadkashehzada
    Sep 18, 2014 - 1:33PM

    @Tariq Ghouri:
    Wht kind of analysis is it? Was it democracy who started all this hatred in the name of religion? Who started extremism? Who shelters extremism? Who brought pakistan in unnecessary wars? Who left millions of afghans unchecked throughout pakistan?

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  • Waqas Ali
    Sep 18, 2014 - 1:38PM

    I recently heard him on 22nd August, 2014 in the conference “The Role of Tolerance in a Multicultural Society” at Arts Auditorium in University of Karachi. Later on, in dean room of arts faculty, he expressed in a informal discussion that he has, most of time, been dabbed “hypocrite” due to his fearless speeches against incorrect version of Islam by some elements. He was among some of them, who got a degree of Doctor of Literature which is extremely rare in Pakistan.
    I strongly believe on that he has served best in dissemination of true meaning of Islamic Teachings.
    May Allah give him the eternal peace to his soul and countless blessings.

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  • Syed Imam
    Sep 18, 2014 - 1:44PM

    Brick by brick dismantling of the Pakistani nation. I fear for its bleak future. May Allah help us.

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  • Libra
    Sep 18, 2014 - 1:44PM

    Sindh Govt. has miserably failed in curbing crimes in the province. Federal Govt. is also equally responsible for this state of affairs. After every such incident they just take notice and ask for report. That’s all is done.

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  • vaqas
    Sep 18, 2014 - 1:54PM

    Such a sad happening. Just yesterday a govt teacher also a professor i think was shot dead. May we find remorse for our deeds and may the family find strength to cope with their loss.

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  • imran ali
    Sep 18, 2014 - 2:22PM

    as usual police and Rangers personnel reached the site soon after…..Ranger should be withdrawn and there assets should be investigated and those found in irregularities should be court martial..local should be inducted in rangers and police,,,,all imported LEAs should be send back

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  • abu
    Sep 18, 2014 - 2:33PM

    We are getting purer and purer as per those elements of those the society who deem us “impure”.. wake up or you’ll be the who’ll be targeted next..
    @Tariq Ghouri: Please! Democracy has nothing to do with it!! These people think they are blesses and right. So, there’s no stopping them, whatever the form of government there is!

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  • Abbas
    Sep 18, 2014 - 2:58PM

    @Faisal:- My dear ! There are no issue of Sectarian in Pakistan. A person went to Iranian consulate a event by his name. A few day before pakistan agencise give name a party belong to karachi that they involved in this type of killing.

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  • Abbas
    Sep 18, 2014 - 3:01PM

    @Faisal:- My dear ! There are no issue of Sectarian in Pakistan. A person went to Iranian consulate a event by his name. A few day before pakistan agencise gave name a party belong to karachi that they involved in this type of killing.

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  • Jalbani Baloch
    Sep 18, 2014 - 3:57PM

    The killing of innocent will continue in Karachi unless a ruthless army operation is started. Today, it is an academician, tomorrow there will be another innocent will fall prey to the bullet of unknown killers. The ruler should know that they are not free from blame, and Allah has already written a sin in their account, and they will taste the punishment on the final day of judgment.

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  • observer
    Sep 18, 2014 - 5:05PM

    If this nation cannot live in peace, then the only real option is to re-join India. Atleast the lives and property of people will be safer. Murders and crime does occur in India, but Muslims are far safer living in India than here. This country was created for Muslims, and it is the Muslims who are murdering fellow Muslims, what irony. We have not learn’ t any lessons. Consider that very few if any Muslim from India would wish to settle in Pakistan, while many Pakistani’s would not mind settling in India, and the only reason being they would be more safer. After 67 years of independence, the first and foremost duty of state is to provide safety and security, to its citizens, and Pakistan has not been able to provide the most basic of basic facility to its citizens. Why have a country when one does not know how to secure it for its citizens, just admit the abject failure and rejoin with India, before many more lives are lost.

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  • asim
    Sep 18, 2014 - 6:43PM

    He was a Sunni Muslim who preached Sunni-Shia harmony. The TTP-affiliated terrorists did not like that.

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  • Sep 18, 2014 - 7:27PM

    @Tariq Ghouri: How has democracy jumped into this. You mean such things never happened when dictatorship was there. Open your eyes. Find the answer for who did it and why?

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  • wiserneighbour
    Sep 18, 2014 - 7:53PM

    Pakistan’ few intellectuals are getting shot and killed.As a nation, Pakistan failed to safeguard it’s citizens.Everday target killings are happening. Internationally declared terrorists are roaming free.Notorious dons are sheltered.Biggest terrorist was eliminated near army camp.This place is the biggest paradox on earth.One side they say there is a war on terror is going on.Otherside an internationally declared terrorist is giving hate speeches.Even Allah is confused about what is happening in your land.

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  • Masood Khan
    Sep 18, 2014 - 8:23PM

    As per a report he was accused of blasphemy by a Karachi madrasa & had received several threatening messages; finally dark forces have won ensuring a dark future for Pakistan.

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  • Iqbal Hadi Zaidi
    Sep 18, 2014 - 9:07PM

    Alas! One more highly educated is killed for none if his fault and it is really very much tragic that despite the fact our rulers are just Bachelor Degree holders (Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari) meaning by we have dearth of highly educated persons like late Prof Dr Shakeel Auj who was Dean at Karachi University. May Allah bless his soul, aamen. Iqbal Hadi Zaidi / Former Diplomat / [email protected] / Kuwait

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  • Timorlane
    Sep 18, 2014 - 9:34PM

    @Roadkashehzada: In this “democracy” more than 8000 people have been gunned down in Karachi in five years. In real democracies governments resign over killings of a few. While here the thug rulers roam around in VVIP protocol.

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  • hameeduddin khan
    Sep 18, 2014 - 11:50PM

    myself, zainab,sarah,mohammed,samaher – condolence to my great sister and her son, as well as to my brother Zaheer khan, Asif uddin khan,sister Tilaat sister Shaheen (wife of Shakeel auj-Marhhom – الله يرحمه)sister ِِAsma and all other relative. انا لله وانا اليه راجعون
    Hameeduddin Khan
    Jeddah Saudi Arabia

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  • Sep 18, 2014 - 11:59PM

    One of the hallmarks of the terrorists is to attack intellectuals who form the backbone of any nation. Killing of Dr. Auj, the Dean of Islamic Studies, University of Karachi is just an act of cowards; condemnable by any sane member of the society. Teachers and college professors nurture future generations who build nations. By killing them the terrorist know they can weaken the state.

    Terrorists worldwide have been put on notice. Time is not far when the terrorists who are operating so freely in cities like Karachi will be focused and targeted. We stand united against any terrorist organization and groups and truly believe that their time is limited.

    Abdul Quddus
    DET – U.S. Central Command
    http://www.facebook.com/centcomurdu

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  • AllahRukha
    Sep 19, 2014 - 1:22AM

    We did not have those killings at such level when Pervez Musharraf was the president of Pakistan.
    Rest in peace doctor sahab.

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  • ih
    Sep 19, 2014 - 3:33AM

    Could somebody point out what did he say or write which led to accusation of blasphemy?.

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  • Sep 19, 2014 - 8:05AM

    Deeply shocked over killing of great scholar and my university teacher.Allah may enter him in jannatulfirdoos and pray patiuence to breaved family.culprits must be punished.

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  • kksr
    Sep 19, 2014 - 8:37AM

    @observer:
    You have raised fundamental questions. What has Pakistan achieved since independence? Are Muslims safer in Pakistan? Did the partition of British-occupied India usher in peace and harmony in the subcontinent? It all points to one conclusion: Political Islam is a disaster for the people and the region. Islam should be confined to people’s heart, homes and mosques.

    Recommend

  • Asim
    Sep 19, 2014 - 10:13AM

    @AllahRukha:
    These killings are a gift of General Ziaul’s 11 year dictatorship.

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  • SMBFHS
    Sep 19, 2014 - 6:26PM

    Hear This Fellows; Loud and Clear!

    All Pakistan College Students… At-the-Least, must “Denounce” this incident of killing of a teacher. WHY? Remember! To ATLEAST denounce and FEEL wrong about a cruelty & MURDER is one of the “Lowest Form” of honour and Faith of a Man!

    If you don’t! Then those days are not far when all Reason & Logic, Peoples’ Rights and Opinions, Creative Science & Technology, Human Decency & Culture of Virtue will fly off the window.

    Remember; The Historic Muslims Empires you claims were lost due to “Schemes or Mismanagement”? Wrong! That fate came about by Growing Intolerance for our brothers & fellow countrymen.

    So much so that the Muslims Scientists were running away to Christian and Hindu Lands in great numbers fearing for their life for HERRESEY Claims that the above murdered scholar face in Pakistan. You have to decide “what Pakistan” you want for your children or grand children? Because they won’t survive a day here if they are any scholarly, scientific or creative individual, would they? So then; Why teach them anything or send to China?

    ET! By not posting above, you will deprive the nation of one last chance for Decency and Hope! Thanks, MFK

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  • genesis
    Sep 19, 2014 - 9:01PM

    @Aiman Kay:
    This is not easy with the fear by other countries that this same extremism will haunt their societies and add the fear of polio which is another story.

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  • Jawaid
    Sep 20, 2014 - 6:37AM

    I demand the government award Nishan e Haider to Dr Shakeel Auj Shaheed. This brave warrior waged jihad against the blood thirsty beasts (our internal enemies) with the mightiest weapon (pen).

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  • Really Sad
    Sep 20, 2014 - 1:35PM

    @Syed Imam
    “Brick by brick dismantling of the Pakistani nation. I fear for its bleak future. May Allah help us.”

    From a distance (across the border and from SFO) and I would admit that I am offering an “arm chair” advice:

    Why do we always ask Allah, Jesus or Ram to help us?

    Why can’t we do it ourselves?

    ..A well wisher

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  • attaullah
    Sep 23, 2014 - 11:40AM

    We have lost another educated person
    May allah rest his soul in peice

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