KARACHI: Renowned soz and marsiah khwan, college principal and campaigner of sectarian harmony Prof Sibt-e-Jafar Zaidi was gunned down on Monday apparently in a sectarian attack in Liaquatbad, police said.
The killing came as a shock to the Shia community, his students and educationists who condemned the incident and questioned the utility of the security administration in the city.
Prof Zaidi was riding home from Government Degree Science College, Liaquatabad, where he served as the principal, when he was targeted, said the area police.
The investigators found more than half a dozen bullet casings of 9mm pistol — a weapon commonly used in targeted attacks in Karachi — on the crime scene.
“The professor used a motorbike for travelling between home and the college” said area’s sub-divisional police officer DSP Wajahat Husain. “It seems that the two attackers riding a motorbike were well aware of his routine and waiting for him near Arshi Chowk, hardly half a kilometre from the college. As he reached the traffic intersection, the attackers emerged, intercepted him and one of them fired multiple shots at Prof Zaidi.”
As he fell to the ground, the attackers sped away, the official said.
The firing sowed fear in the densely populated area where by the time onlookers ascertained the reason for the firing Prof Zaidi had died, said DSP Husain. “The victim was hit by six bullets in the neck, chest and head.”
Later, the body was moved to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where emotional scenes were witnessed. With their eyes filled with tears, a number of his friends, relatives and students had gathered at the medico-legal section of the health facility.
Later, his body was moved to the Imambargah Khairul Amal, Incholi.
Tension gripped a couple of city areas after the killing of Prof Zaidi and life came to a halt in Gulbahar and Incholi.
The funeral prayers will be offered at Amroha Ground in Incholi after Zuhr on Tuesday.
Prof Zaidi was father of a son and two daughters.
The killing of Prof Zaidi attracted serious criticism from Shia organisations and a provincial association of professors and lecturers, who condemned the incident. They questioned the security administration’s role in protecting the life and property of citizens. In a statement, Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) said that Pakistan had lost a great teacher, poet and humanist.
‘Murder of Urdu literature’
“Professor Zaidi provided oxygen to Urdu marsiah but terrorists killed him,” said MWM secretary general Allama Raja Nasir Abbas Jafri.
“His brutal murder is tantamount to murdering Urdu literature, particularly marsiah. We demand immediate arrest of the terrorists and award of capital punishment to them.”
With a nearly three-decade-long association with education, Prof Zaidi was also one of the country’s renowned soz and marsiah khwan. He was known for introducing a new style of soz and marsiah khwani. He formally trained youngsters for soz and marsiah khwani and used to organise regular training sessions in Rizvia Society and Soldier Bazaar.
Apart from thousands of his college students, he had a number of pupils across Pakistan who got training in marsiah and soz khwani from him. For that particular reason, Professor Zaidi was called ‘Ustad’ in close circles. Preacher of sectarian harmony, he was also recognised for compiling ‘Basta’ — a collection of marsiah, salam, naat, manqabat and other genres of literature, particularly the works of Mir Anis and Mirza Salamat Ali Dabeer — more than 15 years ago.
The Sindh Professors’ and Lecturers’ Association (SPLA) lashed out at the Sindh government and announced boycott of all academic activities on Tuesday across Sindh to protest Prof Zaidi’s killing.
“A condolence meeting for Professor Zaidi will be held on Tuesday at DJ Sindh Government Science College,” said SPLA. “If the government fails to provide security to the teaching staff, SPLA will be forced to take extreme measures that may include boycott of its contribution towards the upcoming general elections.”