Istaqbaal and Maizban Mehdi died hungry. As calls for the Friday prayers echoed through Shikarpur on January 30, the two brothers left their steaming dishes of daal chaawal and set off for the imambargah.
“They said that they would eat when they came back after the prayers,” said their sister Rabia Fatima at the Numaish Chowrangi sit-in on Wednesday. “But they never came back.”
Like many of the devastated families, Rabia has travelled hundreds of kilometres to come to Karachi in a bid to seek justice for her brothers.
“What happened to our family has already happened,” she said, clutching photographs of Istaqbaal and Maizban. “We don’t want others to suffer the same fate.”
She believed that an army operation should be carried out in Shikarpur in order to eliminate havens for terrorists.
Accompanying her was her cousin, Nadia Shoaib. Nadia too was mourning the deaths of her two brothers, Ali and Kashif Hasan.
“The four boys were friends and had gone to the same imambargah,” she explained. “The rest of the men in the family went to another one.”
Many women from the shattered families have not turned up for the protests — the widows are observing iddat in their homes, while the mothers are too devastated to participate. Nadia had to leave her mother at a hospital in Hyderabad on the way to Karachi when she became ill.
“These criminals must be hanged,” she said. “Perhaps then we might get some comfort.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2015.
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