KARACHI: Police arrested 28 people after a clash between followers of two schools of thought over the management of a mosque in Mehmoodabad late on Saturday night left one man dead and three others injured.

Earlier in the day the mosque was handed over to one of the groups under the Sindh High Court orders in presence of the court’s Nazir, who stayed at the mosque till Maghreb prayers to ensure smooth transition, officials said.

However, DIG East Amir Farooqi said that at around 11pm about 150 to 200 men from the other group attacked the men inside the mosque.

Initially, the two sides used fists and sticks in the brawl but then some men resorted to firing in which Kashif Hussain, 35, was killed and Yamin Ismail, 30, Adeel Afzal, 30, and Raja M. Hafeez, 44, were injured.

The dead and the injured were taken to the Jinnah Post-graduate Medical Centre. Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the hospital, said two of the injured underwent surgery since they had suffered abdominal wounds and the third one was discharged after medical aid.

Baloch Colony SHO Naveed Soomro told Dawn that the dispute had been going on for the last 30 years.

He said the SHC gave judgement in favour of one group around two to three years ago and, on recent directives of the court, police handed over the mosque to that group at around 4pm on Saturday.

The SHO said police had registered two FIRs against the alleged attackers and arrested 28 people.

One FIR was registered on behalf of the state through SHO Soomro over charges of riots, etc, under which 21 people were arrested. The second FIR was registered on the complaint of the trustee of the mosque under charges of terror, etc, under which seven suspects were arrested.

The SHO said the victims belonged to one school of thought and the family of the deceased wanted to lodge a third FIR over murder charge against the trustees of the mosques. Police were waiting for the relatives of the deceased to lodge the case.

Mr Soomro said police reached the spot after firing had stopped. He said they were ascertaining whether Kashif Hussain died of bullets fired by the attackers or the persons inside the mosque were also armed.

An uneasy calm prevailed in parts of Mehmoodabad following the clash. However, the SHO claimed that the situation had been brought under control as no untoward incident was reported on Sunday.

The management of mosques in Karachi has remained a bone of contention between different sects, which sometimes takes an ugly turn.

As per the city police’s report of 2004, there were over 30,000 mosques and Imambargahs in the city and more than half of them have been constructed on encroached land and police are ‘powerless’ to take any action in this regard.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2019