Protests continue in Karachi’s Malir area on Monday, a day after top Shia cleric Mirza Yusuf Husain and leader of the proscribed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Taj Hanafi, were apprehended by law enforcement personnel. The two were detained following a resurgence in targeted sectarian killings linked that claimed 13 lives in the city within a week’s time.
Representatives of various Shia parties began protesting early Monday at around 1:30am in Malir and on Shahrah-i-Pakistan against targeted killings and arrests of workers, DawnNews reported, with protesters saying they will continue their demonstrations until arrested workers are released.
Police used tear gas shelling and aerial firing in an attempt to disperse the protesters, who were obstructing railway tracks in the area and bringing morning traffic along the National Highway to a standstill, DawnNews reported.
After an initial attempt at dispersing the crowd, the protesters regrouped at the same location. Talks between police and the crowd are ongoing.
Protests also took place on Sunday against the alleged ‘desecration’ of religious texts during a search operation in Shah Najaf Imambargah in Rizvia Society, a charge denied by Pakistan Rangers (Sindh).
A spokesperson of the paramilitary force termed photos of the alleged ‘desecration’ being shared on social media by ‘miscreants’ as contrary to facts. The motive for spreading such photos was “to create hindrances in the operation”, he said.
“The Rangers tended to pay due respect to the sanctity of the mosque, the imambargah and the seminaries during search operations in relation to the presence of miscreants there,” said a Rangers statement.
Personnel of Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and police conducted a search operation at the ASWJ headquarter near Nagan Chowrangi and detained ASWJ’s Karachi secretary general Allama Taj Mohammed Hanafi, said an ASWJ spokesperson on Sunday.
There was no word from the paramilitary force about his detention. The relevant New Karachi police officer also expressed ignorance about the incident.
ASWJ president Allama Aurangzeb Farooqui criticised the detention of Allama Taj Mohammed Hanafi and said that the detained leader was a candidate of the party for the by-election on NA-258 in Malir, scheduled to be held on Nov 24.
“Unjustified detention of Hanafi shows that the PPP-led government feared defeat of its candidate in the by-poll,” he said.
Earlier, in the small hours of Sunday morning, personnel of law enforcement agencies apprehended Allama Mirza Yusuf Husain, head of the All Pakistan Shia Action Committee and former leader of the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM), police and party officials said.
He was picked up from his residence attached to Jamia Masjid Noor-i-Iman, where he was prayer leader, in Nazimabad.
Confirming the detention of Allama Mirza Yusuf Husain, Nazimabad SHO Faizul Hasan told Dawn that there were at least 16 cases against the Shia cleric and his name was also included in the 4th Schedule.
The MWM also held a demonstration on Sunday evening on M.A. Jinnah Road near Numaish Chowrangi against the arrest of ex-senator Faisal Raza Abidi and Maulana Mirza Yusuf Husain.
The protesters carried banners urging the government to arrest culprits involved in the killings of five people, including three brothers, in a gun attack outside a Nazimabad house, where a majlis for women was in progress on Oct 29.