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Five-member police team to probe JUI-F office-bearer's murder

Updated November 29, 2014

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Photo from Friday Nov 28, 2014 shows slain Dr Khalid Mehmood Soomro, general secretary of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Sindh chapter.—Photo by Online
Photo from Friday Nov 28, 2014 shows slain Dr Khalid Mehmood Soomro, general secretary of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Sindh chapter.—Photo by Online

HYDERABAD: IG Police Sindh Ghulam Hyder Jamali on Saturday formed a five member team to investigate the murder of Dr Khalid Mehmood Soomro, general secretary of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Sindh chapter.

The team, which has started its investigation, is headed by DIG Larkana Saeen Rakhio Mirani with DIG Special Branch Sukkur Sharjeel Karim Kharal, SSP Sukkur Tanvir Tunio and SSPs of Shikarpur and Khairpur as members.

Soomro was shot dead in Sukkur early Saturday morning when he was leaving a mosque attached to a madrassah after offering Fajr prayers.

Authorities are looking at a number of probabilities relating to Soomro’s assassination. They have recovered six bullet empties and got an eyewitness account claiming there were three to four assailants who arrived in a white car and left in a hurry.

“We have got an eyewitness account of a mason who was present in the seminary-cum-mosque,” said DIG Mirani, who holds the additional charge of DIG Sukkur Range police as well.

According to Mirani, the assailants struck just before the morning Fajr prayers.

“Gunmen sprayed Soomro with bullets while prayer was about to start,” added Mirani from Larkana.

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Soomro had addressed a ‘Payam-e-Amn’ conference in Qasim Bagh Sukkur and had stayed in Jamia Haqania which is an under-construction seminary-cum-mosque located in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Site area.

Soomro, who was known for his fiery speeches, had been vocal on issues of Sindh and had worked with nationalist parties and the PPP over issues such as Kalabagh Dam, Greater Thal Canal and missing persons.

There were around seven to eight other people who had gathered to offer morning prayers. With serious bullet wounds, Soomro was taken to a nearby private hospital where he was pronounced dead. His family did not allow medico legal officers to conduct post-mortem.

“We [the authorities] have not yet been able to find those responsible for the suicide attack on our emir, Maulana Fazalur Rehman. Authorities are in a habit of issuing a cyclostyle statement through Twitter and Facebook to condemn something. But in the present case, even such a statement has not been issued,” reacted Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a central leader of JUI-F, who had reached Larkana from Punjab.

Funeral proceedings of Soomro will be held in Larkana at his seminary and he will be laid to rest after Maghrib prayers at a nearby space available adjacent to his seminary. Party leaders from across Sindh have started reaching Larkana to offer condolences.

People gather at Madrassa Jamia Dar ul Uloom Haqqania after the killing of JUI-F Leader Dr Khalid Mahmood Soomro.—Photo by Online
People gather at Madrassa Jamia Dar ul Uloom Haqqania after the killing of JUI-F Leader Dr Khalid Mahmood Soomro.—Photo by Online

Insider involvement suspected


DIG Mirani claimed that the police are looking into several factors. He also hinted at the ‘sectarian aspect’ of the killing and that police are also looking into the aspect of ‘insider involvement’ as well.

“Gunmen struck right at the time when Fajr prayer was about to commence and people getting ready for the prayer. So we are obtaining CDR [call data record] of those present there. The timing was so accurate and this makes us suspect the involvement of some insider at this point of time,” Mirani added.

“Situation on ground regarding [the marks of] the car’s wheels indicate it was reversed when the assailants fled,” he said.

Police authorities are preparing sketches of the assailants on the basis of initial statements from those present at the time of the killing, while the scene of the offence has been preserved.

JUI-F activists blocked roads in protest in Sukkur and Larkana. Business remained closed in Sukkur, while traffic sparse and fuel stations were also closed as a mark of mourning.

JUI-F secretary general Abdul Ghafoor Hyderi, Akram Durrani, JUI-F Sindh spokesman Maulana Taj Mohammad Nahiyoon reached Larkana following the incident.

“We are part of a movement and such movements do not stop. He laid down his life for the cause of Islam,” said Nahiyoon. He said that Soomro always remained undeterred despite previous attempts on his life.

Soomro had been frequenting the seminary previously, where was staying in the room adjacent to the mosque. His two police guards were also staying there in another room. According to DIG Mirani, Soomro was provided ten policemen for his security.

“But he left eight of them in Larkana and two accompanied him on Friday night,” he said.

A Sukkur special branch official claimed that assailants did not touch anyone except Soomro.

“We are collecting details regarding previous attacks on his life…[and] some speeches he delivered recently. We will also be probing a property dispute regarding the seminary land but it is premature to comment on it in definite terms,” he said.

He claimed that Larkana police had provided him six policemen for security purpose and four were his personal security guards.

JUI-F activists and leaders staged protest demonstrations at different spots in Hyderabad including Sabzi Mandi, Gharib Nawaz Bridge and outside local press club. They were led by Khalid Dhamra, Abdul Aziz and Sirajul Haq.

They demanded the arrest of the culprits and complained that killings of ulema (clerics) continued unabated. They said that they are "fast losing their patience".

Shops remained closed in mobile market in Saddar area but they reopened in the second half of the day. No untoward incident was reported from any quarter.

Shops are seen closed in Hyderabad during a strike in protest of the murder of JUI-F provincial general secretary Dr Khalid Mehmood Soomro—Photo by Online
Shops are seen closed in Hyderabad during a strike in protest of the murder of JUI-F provincial general secretary Dr Khalid Mehmood Soomro—Photo by Online

Funeral prayers offered


Funeral prayers of the slain JUI-F leader were offered at Larkana’s Municipal Stadium later in the evening. It was largely attended by people of Larkana and party workers from across Sindh.

JUI-F leaders Abdul Ghafoor Hyderi, Attaur Rehman, brother of JUI-F emir Maulana Fazalur Rehman, Akram Durrani, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, Sindh Tarraqi-passand Party chairman Dr Qadir Magsi, Sindh United Party president Jalal Mehmood Shah, Jeay Sindh Quami Mahaz chairman Sanan Qureshi, Jeay Sindh Mahaz leader Riaz Chandio and others were present at the funeral.

Soomro will be laid to rest in Haqanya Colony. Family members said he had already expressed his last will regarding his place of burial.