Scores of devotees, seven policemen injured in clashes at Qalandar shrine

Published April 2, 2021
DEVOTEES crowd spaces outside Qalandar’s shrine on Thursday evening.—Dawn
DEVOTEES crowd spaces outside Qalandar’s shrine on Thursday evening.—Dawn

DADU: Around 40 devotees and seven policemen were injured when they clashed at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan on Thursday evening.

A few days back, the Sindh government had announced closure of all shrines in the province as part of measures to control Covid-19 pandemic. However, several thousand devotees had already arrived in Sehwan to take part in the 769th urs of the great Sufi saint that was to start on Thursday evening.

Ignoring the official announcement about the shrine’s closure, hundreds of devotees — most of whom had come from outside Sindh and were staying in Sehwan and neighbouring towns — started assembling outside the closed gates of the shrine during the day. Officers and personnel of the Jamshoro police, deployed around the shrine, kept telling the devotees to turn away as there was no chance to open the shrine.

However, the crowd outside kept swelling and at around 6pm, scores of devotees broke open one of the gates of the shrine to storm into it. Hundreds of others followed suit creating an ugly situation. When the police force tried to herd them out of the shrine, it was attacked with stones. Police applied baton charge but could not control crowds of devotees.

Reinforcement of 200 policemen was called in from Dadu after situation worsened and many people, including policemen, sustained injuries. Finally, Rangers personnel were requested to assist the police in restoring law and order.

Devotees break open gate of sealed shrine, attack policemen to start three-day urs celebrations inside

Director of the Syed Abdullah Shah Institute of Medical and Health Sciences Dr Moeenuddin Siddiqui said 16 seriously injured people — seven of them policemen — were provided treatment at the hospital.

Reports from the troubled area suggested that three motorcycles were set afire during the violent clashes. It was stated a little before midnight that the situation at and around the shrine was tense as a considerable number of devotees were not ready to leave the town.

Jamshoro Deputy Commissioner retired Capt Fareeduddin Mustafa appealed to all devotees, visitors and other people to vacate the shrine and peacefully return to their homes as the shrine would remain sealed as per the directives of the provincial government.

Our Staff Correspondent in Hyderabad adds: Police authorities and shrine management clarified that violent devotees first tried to force their way into the dargah from the Golden Gate side but they were pushed away by police. In reaction, they started pelting police with stones. They then broke open the door at parking lot side to proceed to the Golden Gate area. Videos of the episode that went viral on the social media clearly showed devotees going on the rampage.

Jamshoro SSP Javed Baloch said that only one gate was broken by devotees when they were not allowed to enter the dargah. He claimed that only one motorcycle, belonging to a visitor, was partially burnt.

Sources in the Sehwan police said six policemen were injured in the violence. They were identified as ASI Manzoor and constables Abdul Razzaq, Mazhar Ali, Insaf Hussain, Ali Bux and Mushtaq.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Security lapses
13 Apr, 2024

Security lapses

THE attack on Chinese engineers in Bisham recently was a grim reminder of the complexities the state faces in...
An eventful season
13 Apr, 2024

An eventful season

THE Senate chairman and deputy chairman were elected unopposed, and 41 new senators were sworn in on Tuesday,...
Living rough
13 Apr, 2024

Living rough

WE either don’t see them or don’t want to see them — not even when they are actively trying to get our...
Saudi investment
Updated 10 Apr, 2024

Saudi investment

The state has to address barriers that stand in the way of attracting foreign investment, and create a pro-business environment.
Charity for change
Updated 11 Apr, 2024

Charity for change

PAKISTANIS are large-hearted people who empty their pockets at the slightest hint of another’s need. The Stanford...