NAWABSHAH: The Zardari and Bhand clans of Nawabshah finally reached a settlement over a gruesome attack that had left five members of the latter and a police inspector dead and another 10 wounded on Feb 12, 2022.

The attack by a group of Zardari clansmen near Qazi Ahmed town was carried out amid a dispute with the Bhand clan on a piece of 390-acre piece of land near the district’s riverine area. The incident had led to a strong protest by Bhands, along with members of the local Mallah community. The protesters had blocked the Qazi Ahmed section of National Highway for four consecutive days.

Protests were also held in some other parts of the province as the Sindh United Party (SUP), claiming that Bhands were its supporters, also joined in the campaign that lasted several weeks.

Later, the two sides agreed to get the matter settled through a jirga. Since then, direct and indirect negotiations between the two sides had been continuing.

Settlement announced by SUP arbitrator after 26 months of negotiations

On Friday (May 10) evening, SUP President Syed Zain Shah announced at his residence in Majeed Keerio village that a settlement had been reached.

Zain Shah and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Ashiq Hussain Zardari played a key role in settling the matter. The Zardari clan will have to pay a total of Rs50m and more than 50 acres of land in compensation.

Spelling out terms of the settlement, Mr Shah, in his capacity as the ‘Ameen’ (trustee) in the negotiations, said that the Zardari clan agreed to pay a compensation of Rs7 million for each of the five deaths in the attack and hand over 10 acres of land to the family of each deceased. Furthermore, it would pay Rs 2.5m compensation to each of the seriously wounded persons and Rs500,000 to each slightly wounded person. In addition, the Zardari clan agreed to pay Rs10m as legal expenses to the Bhand clan, he said.

However, the Bhand clan waived off the legal expenses.

While Ashiq Hussain Zardari represented the Zardari clan, the Bhand clan was represented by Khamiso Khan Bhand and Haji Khan Bhand in the negotiations.

Syed Zain Shah, speaking to the media, thanked the negotiators and members of the two clans for reposing trust in him and helping the negotiators to reach a peaceful settlement.

On Feb 12, 2022, a group of Zardari clansmen having claim on the 390-acre piece of land attacked a large group of the rival Bhand clansmen killing five of them and a police inspector. Ten other people were wounded in the attack. The deceased Bhands were identified as Ayaz, Mashooq, Saban, Akmal and Sher Mohammed, and the police inspector as Hameed Khoso.

Soon after the incident, SUP leadership raised its voice over the gruesome attack and claimed that the affected side was supporter of the party. Some other political parties and nationalist groups also threw their weight behind the Bhands and visited their protest camp to express solidarity with them.

The Bhand and Mallah communities kept the Qazi Ahmed section of the National Highway for four days during which the district administration and provincial government continued their efforts to being the protest to an end. Prominent among those who made such efforts were Ziaul Hassan Lanjar (currently home minister) and MPA Ghulam Qadir Chandio. The then deputy commissioner and SSP of the Shaheed Benazirabad district had also attended almost all rounds of talks.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2024

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