PESHAWAR: The targeted killing of a local ANP leader and imambargah caretaker on Friday sparked a protest that disrupted life in the provincial metropolis as hundreds of people carrying the deceased’s body staged a sit-in on the GT Road for more than an hour.
The deceased, Imdad Hussain Shah, 47, was the vice president of the ANP in Gunj area.
He was also the caretaker of Pathar Wali Imambargah located in Mohallah Huda area and headed a committee organising Shia mourning processions in Gunj area.
Police say gunmen riding motorcycle killed Imdad Hussain; 11 suspects taken into custody
The police said the incident took place in Tedi Gate area of the city’s Yakatoot police station at around 12pm when unidentified people opened fire on Imdad Hussain as he was on his way to the imambargah for Friday prayers.
They said the number of attackers was not known. The areas under the control of the Yakatoot police station have seen many targeted killing incidents in more than a decade.
Immediately after Imdad Hussain’s killing, hundreds of locals carrying the body first staged a protest in Gunj locality and then closed the City Circular Road.
The killing also sparked protests outside the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) and Qissa Khwani Bazaar.
At around 4:00pm, the protesters along with the body staged a sit-in on the GT Road in front of Balahisar Fort.
They burned old tyres, shouted slogans against the government and demanded action against the target killers of Shias in the provincial capital.
The blocking of the capital’s main traffic artery caused traffic mess in most parts of the city.
People were forced to take long detours, while many went to their destinations on foot. The sit-in continued for more than an hour.
Peshawar SSP Dr Mian Saeed later held talks with protesters.
ANP general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who was also present on the occasion, urged protesters to end sit-in.
The mob allowed the body to be taken to the hospital for autopsy for clearing the way for registration of FIR.
Attaullah Jan, a protester, told Dawn that the deceased was a prominent personality of his locality, Gunj, and that he had no enmity and did catering business.
He said the protesters had taken to the streets to record their anger with the relevant authorities at the killing.
“How anyone can hope about the arrest of common man’s killers when killers of senior police officers like Safwat Ghayyur and Malik Saad haven’t been held,” he said.
Azhar Ali Shah, another protester, said the police were informed about the movements of suspects in the areas, where the incidence of targeted killings was high, but to no avail.
“They (police) did nothing despite we provided them with the footage of surveillance cameras,” he said, adding that only the army could eliminate targeted killing from the city.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain told reporters that both the provincial and federal governments had miserably failed to ensure the protection of the public life.
He said the provincial government was to blame for Imdad Hussain’s targeted killing.
The ANP leader asked why the National Action Plan on security was not being implemented in letter and spirit and why banned militant outfits were operating across the country without let or hindrance.
He said Imdad Hussain was his party’s 45th worker to be killed since the end of its government’s term in 2013.
“Maintaining law and order is the foremost responsibility of a government,” he said.
Peshawar SSP (operations) Dr Mian Saeed told reporters that gunmen rode a motorcycle, who fired gunshots on Imdad and fled. He said the police had arrested 11 suspects following a search operation conducted in the area following targeted killing.
The SSP said the police usually combed areas for suspects but the use of motorcycles made the movement of suspects very easy. He said outsiders riding motorcycles could go and target people in parts of city.
The SSP said the police had made a security plan for Shia worship places in the city following the Imamia Masjid attack in January this year but current, members of the community were being targeted individually.
“The police are working on cases in which suspects from localities outside Peshawar target the local residents,” he said, adding that the FIR will be registered in line with the demands of protesters.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2015