KHAIRPUR, Oct 8: A day of mourning over the deaths of five political activists and a journalist was observed in most areas of Khairpur district on Monday with most business and commercial activities remaining suspended.
The political activists, all belonging to the Pakistan People’s Party and members of the Janwari clan, and the journalist, associated with the TV channel Dharti, were killed when armed men opened fire on a the participants in a rally which was to be addressed by MNA Nafisa Shah, the daughter of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, in village Sodoro Janwari on Sunday evening.
Many others were wounded in the firing.
No markets, bazaars, commercial concerns and shops were opened in Khairpur city and several other towns of the district as traders observed a voluntary shutterdown.
Condolence meetings were also organised by the PPP in the city and various towns to mourn the victims and express sympathy with those wounded in the attack. People in large numbers attended the meetings. Condemning the attack, speakers at the meetings said that it was politically motivated and targeted against PPP.
Four of the deceased — Zafar Ali, Raza Mehdi, Dilshad and Muneer — were laid to rest in their native graveyard within Sadoro Janwari village on Monday.
The body of the slain journalist Mushtaque Khand was laid to rest in his native village Ameer Bux Khand near Ahmedpur of Kingri taluka.
A large number of journalists, besides his relatives and friends, attended the funeral. Mr Khand, who had moved to Khairpur only three-four years back, has left two widows, five sons and two daughters.
The body of another victim, Salahuddin Siddiqui, who served as assistant professor at the Government College of Technology, Khairpur, was sent to Karachi for burial.
LARKANA: Niaz Hussain, son of Ghulam Haider Janwari, 30, who was wounded in the incident narrated his ordeal while speaking to Dawn on Monday.
“I was standing with some journalists near the main entrance to the public meeting venue when I heard the sound of two bursts fired with Kalashnikov and a stray bullet hit me in my hip,” he said.
While under treatment in the surgical ward-7 of the Chandka Medical College Hospital, he said that after sustaining the bullet wound, he fell to the ground and fell unconscious. He said that he regained consciousness while being shifted to Larkana by his relatives. “I am a PPP worker and was engaged in arrangements for the public meeting along with the Khairpur administrator.”
Asked whether the attack was linked with the old enmity between two rival groups of the Janwari clan living in that area, he ruled out such a possibility, and said it was indeed an act of terrorism.
“Had it been linked to old enmity, the attackers would have particularly targeted their opponent. Why would they open an indiscriminate firing on the people who included a professor and young boy?” he argued.
He said the attack took place just 20 minutes before the arrival of Ms Shah, which he argued was also meaningful.
HYDERABAD: Activists of the Sindh People’s Youth Organisation (SPYO) of Hyderabad division on Monday took out a procession in protest against the attack.
Carrying party flags and banners, and chanting slogans against nationalist leaders and their supporters, they marched from the district council of Hyderabad to the local press club.
The road leading to the club remained blocked from the two sides with barbed wires to avoid any untoward incident because other anti-local government protests are also regularly being held.
A heavy contingent of police and Rangers were deployed.
“We took out a procession to condemn the Khairpur incident and express solidarity and sympathy with the bereaved families and those injured,” divisional chapter president Ahsan Abro said after leading the protest.
He said PPP leaders had warned about such incidents only one day ago at a press conference and these proved true that political opponents were crossing limits.
He said they had urged nationalist leaders to avoid giving provocative statements because it could lead to violence.
“Nationalists leaders are trying to foment racial hatred and violence among peace-loving people of Sindh on the pretext of a controversy over the local government act,” he said.
President of the Hyderabad chapter of People’s Student Federation (SPSF) Lala Rizwan Mughal said workers of the PPP would resist the campaign being launched by a couple of nationalists against the act.
Other leaders, including Abdul Razzaque Brohi and Mama Rind, said people knew that nationalists were extortionists and were working on an agenda to push the country to a civil war.
SUKKUR: A joint rally was taken out by the SPYO and Journalists under the leadership of Qasim Dasti and Karpal Kaiswani to condemn the Khairpur killings.
The rally participants started a march from the main bazaar of Kashmore city before assembling at local press club where participants staged a sit-in.
City based journalists also staged a protest demonstration against the killing of Mr Khand and five other people in Khairpur.
Members of Sukkur Press Club and other journalists associated with the print and electronic media held a demonstration outside the press club and raised slogans against the attack. They urged the Khairpur administration to get the culprits arrested and punished.
The Indus Union of Journalists and the National Press Club, Sukkur, also organised demonstrations at the Clock Tower roundabout to condemn the killings. Similar protests were held in Kashmore, Jacobabad, Mirpur Mathelo, Daharki and Thull.