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Mastung killing: Shutter down strike in Quetta

22 September, 2011

QUETTA: Man is comforted by his relative after he arrived at the local hospital in Quetta, to find a family member shot dead.
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QUETTA: The 22 people of the Hazara community shot dead in Mastung on Tuesday were laid to rest in Hazara town graveyard on Wednesday while a shutter down strike was observed in different localities of the city against the killings.

Eminent religious scholar Allama Juma Asadi led the funeral prayers, attended by a large number of people, mostly belonging to the Hazara tribe, and political leaders. The 22 people were buried in Quetta, while the bodies of four others were dispatched to their native towns in Loralai district and Afghanistan for burial.

The funerals of the 22 people were taken out from Imambargah Wali Asar Hazara town, where large numbers of the Hazara community thronged to the funerals. The shops and businesses concerns located on Alamdar road, Marriabad, Hazara town were completely closed while shutters of shops in different parts of the city were pulled down to protest the assassination of 26 people, a majority of them pilgrims. The traffic also plied below the normal in different parts of the city.

While the burials were taking place, hundreds of women belonging to the Hazara community staged a protest demonstration in Hazara town demanding that the government provide security to the citizens. They chanted slogans against the government. "What is our offence; what are we being punished for," asked 10-year-old Murtaza Ali whose father was a victim of the Mastung incident.

Despite the passage of 24 hours since the carnage, authorities in Balochistan failed miserably to trace the attackers though police claimed to have rounded up 200 suspects in different raids conducted in Quetta and its outskirts.

On the other hand, the provincial government formed a committee headed by the Provincial Home Minister Mir Zafarullah Zehri to probe the incident. The committee comprises Secretary Home and Tribal Affairs, IGP Balochistan, CCPO Quetta, Commissioners of Quetta and Kalat divisions as well as the Deputy Commissioners of Quetta and Mastung. The committee will submit its findings to the provincial government within 15 days.

Meanwhile, addressing a news conference, chairman Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), Abdul Khaliq Hazara appealed to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take cognisance of the target killings in Balochistan as was done in the case of Karachi. He said only people belonging to the Hazara community were being targeted in Balochistan. He said the Hazara Shias had requested the federal and provincial governments to take notice of target killings of a particular community, but to no avail. "We are approaching the Hazara people living in foreign countries to take up the issue abroad," he added.

Khaliq Hazara announced that the Hazara community throughout the country would stage protest demonstrations on October 1, to press the government to come out of hibernation. He also appealed to human rights organisations to take up the mater.

Replying to a question, he alleged that the provincial government and some officials of the law enforcement agencies were patronising target killers in Balochistan. He hoped that the Supreme Court would take notice of the situation, since it was the last ray of hope.

APP adds: A large number of people staged demonstrations and took out rallies in different areas of the city on Wednesday to protest the Mastung killings.

The protesters including men and women took out rallies in different areas including Marriabad, Alamdar road, Hazara town, Ali Abad, Kirani road, Barori road and others. They demanded that the government provide security and protection to life and property of citizens.

The protestors set three houses on fire on Kirani road on the outskirts of the city.

PPI adds: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has slammed the killing of the Shia pilgrims near Mastung, calling the absence of security for them outrageous and adding that the killers had been emboldened by a persistent lack of action against sectarian militant groups.

A statement by the Commission said on Wednesday that the HRCP was appalled by the gruesome killing of Shia pilgrims near Mastung and found the utter lack of protection for them outrageous, particularly when pilgrims traveling in the area had been attacked previously and were known to be at risk.

"It is difficult to comprehend why no action has been taken against the banned militant group that has claimed responsibility for this ghastly attack and for numerous sectarian killings earlier. How do they still manage to roam free with their weapons and vehicles?" the Commission said. "We fear that the utter lack of competence and inability to adequately respond to the security situation is bound to contribute to further bloodshed. The government must move beyond rhetoric and its current casual and reactive approach to law and order challenges and start functioning as a responsible authority."

INP adds: More than 200 suspects, including 100 Afghan nationals, on Wednesday were arrested in different parts of the city in a search operation conducted by police and Levies Force personnel after the target killing incident in Mastung.

According to Levis sources, on a tip off, police and Levies personnel made joint raids at various houses in several parts of the city, apprehending more than 200 suspects, including 100 Afghan nationals during the search operation. The arrested suspects were shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation.

End.

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