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Prof Sibt-e-Jafar Zaidi. — Photo by Dawn.

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.”

Comments (6) Closed

Ram Krishan Sharma Mar 19, 2013 04:40am
It is a very sad news that such a bright person has been taken away . Those who shot him have no clue about his worth . A great loss to Pakistan as well as to those who love urdu literature . May God keep his soul at rest.
Ali Mar 19, 2013 06:13am
The college prinicipal's murder on a motor bike exposes the reality that how low paid are our teachers that he could not afford to have and maintain a four wheel automobile.
abbastoronto Mar 19, 2013 12:25pm
How come the followers of Ali are not armed?
Syed Sarim Mar 19, 2013 02:13pm
Followers of Ali know that killing human being is the act disliked by Allah, Allah will be the judge and these monsters will be punished, having said that to hate someone is really easy but to bring harmony in society is the task that should be the goal.
asad00 Mar 19, 2013 04:30pm
The followers of ALI know well that killing a fellow muslim is not allowed in our faith. They bellieve in muslim unity and tragically they are being massacred in hundreds all across the so called muslim states. The message of Islam is for tolerance and unity not to react and fall from grace. These followers are well aware of their limits and responsibilities.
Raza Mar 19, 2013 07:55pm
Surah Nisa, ayat 93: Translation: 4:93 If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (For ever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him.