KHAIRPUR/KARACHI - The chief of a banned outfit Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan, an offshoot of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Allama Ali Sher Haideri was shot dead in Khairpur in the wee hours of Monday.
The killing sparked riots in interior Sindh and Karachi, in which two protesters were killed and several others were wounded at Luqman Railways Crossing on Monday evening when personnel of law enforcement agencies opened fire on mob to stop them from removing rail track.
Meanwhile, in a special meeting of the SSP General Council at Luqman, the native village of Haideri, has elevated Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi as the new chief of the outfit while Sanaullah Jawari, brother of assassinated leader, has been made as the new administrator of Jamia Hamadia. The meeting has also warned the government of strong protest if the killers are not arrested in five days.
Protest demonstrations have also been reported from across the country including Islamabad, Gilgit and many other towns and cities. Tension has also gripped Jhang, the city that has remained the centre of sectarian violence and birthplace of militant outfits.
It is important to recall that members of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) had formed Millat-e-Islamia or Nation of Islam in 2002 after the government banned SSP in 2002. But the very next year, Millat-e-Islamia was also banned along with other militant outfits, although it has continued to operate across the country.
According to details, Allama Ali Sher Haideri was killed along with one of his associates, Imtiaz Ali Phulpoto, near the village of Pir Jo Goth village. SSP Sindh chief Maulana Abdul Karim Marri was also injured in the attack.
Ali Sher Haideri was returning to Khairpur from the house of his friend after attending a public meeting at about 3am. When he reached at some distance from a village at Ahmedpur-Khairpur link road in the precincts of Pir Jo Goth Police Station, over 20 armed men who were already present there targeted Haideris vehicle, which resulted in his death.
Haideris bodyguards also retaliated triggering an exchange of fire in which one of the assailants, Oshaq Ali Jagirani, was also killed. Several of Haideris had also been wounded.
Later on, the bodies were brought at Luqman area of Khairpur for funeral. The funeral prayer was offered at Madrassa Jamia Hamadia Luqman (a local seminary), which was attended by thousands of people. The SSP chief was laid to rest near his father grave in front of the seminary. Newly appointed chief of SSP Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi led the final prayers of the militant leader.
Meanwhile, while confirming the identification of dead attacker, DPO Khairpur has said that he suspected a personal grudge was the motive for the killing.
He said situation was now under control as police had been deployed across the district. He expressed the hope that they would capture the culprits soon.
Life came to a standstill as strike were observed in towns across Sindh and in parts of Punjab province.
It may be mentioned that some years back the people belonging to Jagirani community had also killed Muhammad Waris, father of Ali Sher Haideri over a land dispute.
No any case was lodged till the filing of story.
After receiving information, the activists of SSP arrived reached Luqman and blocked railway track at Luqman Railways Crossing due to which trains were stopped at Rohri, Nawabshah, Mehrabpur and other stations for many hours.
As the protesters started uprooting the track, police and Rangers personnel used teargas to disperse the crowd. But protesters started firing with automatic weapons that forced law enforcers to retaliate. During the gun battle Zulfikar Ali Jalbani and Saadullah Memon were killed while several others injured persons were brought to the Civil Hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, the railways authorities have failed in repairing the track forcing the trains to stop at various stations including Rohri, Pano Aqil, Gambat, Rani Pur, Mehrabpur, Nawabshah and others, while the situation is still tense.
Some activist also burnt tyres at Therhi Bridge and blocked old National Highway. Houses of Jagirani community near the seminary at Luqman have also set ablaze.
Some unidentified armed persons shot fires into air at Chandia. The transporters also kept their vehicles off the road keeping the attendance in offices very low. All educational institutions including, schools, colleges and university also remained closed and administration returned the students who some how managed to arrive.
Strike was also observed in Pir Jo Goth, Gambat, Sobhodero, Naro, Naro, Kotdiji, Thari Mirwah and Faiz Gunj, while partial strike was also observed in parts of Punjab including Chichawatni.
Businesses were closed down across other cities in the Sindh, especially Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas, Naushahro Feroze, and Larkana. Activists of SSP also held protest demonstrations in Islamabad and burnt tyres to denounce the killing of their leader.
In Naushahro Feroze 10 persons were injured as protesters turned violent while militant activists beat shopkeepers to force them for closing down their businesses.
The killing sparked riots in Karachi where angry mobs burnt three vehicles and two petrol pumps, while they also resorted to aerial firing as around half a dozen people have also been injured.
Tension flared up when news of killing spread across the city where aerial firing has been reported in various areas while exchange of fire between the law enforcers and miscreants.
Violent protests sparked at Nagan Chowrangi in New Karachi in which at least six among a cop sustained bullet injuries during exchange of fire while miscreants were partially brunt two petrol pumps and two buses while another bus was set on fire in Orangi Town. According to details, despite the deployment of heavy contingents of police and Rangers, activists of SSP resorted to firing from within the mosque. Resultantly, police retaliated using gunshots and teargas. The clash resulted in injuries to five passer-bys and a cop.
Police have registered FIRs and arrested some 15 SSP activists including Abdul Ghafoor Nadeem, a central leader of SSP.
Police said unknown miscreants also started aerial firing, burnt tyres and pelted passing vehicles with stones in different localities including Khuda-ki-Basti, Patel Para, Ibrahim Hydri, Qayyumabad, Landhi, Dawood Chowrangi, Quaidabad and Kemari.
Another policeman deployed at an Imambargha in New Karachi also sustained bullet injuries when unknown assailants targeted the sacred place.
Firing and protest has been continued in various areas while heavy police deployment tried to prevent any further incident.
Reuters/AFP/PPI add: Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, a top leader of the group, blamed Shias for Haideris killing. The attackers were none other than Shias, Ludhianvi told a news agency.
Giving details about the violence in Karachi, CCPO Waseem Ahmad told AFP that one police official and two others were injured in the firing by the armed men during rioting.
He said police arrested seven men belonging to SSP from a mosque, and recovered weapons and ammunition from their possession.
Police... were deployed in sensitive areas and we are protecting the life and property of the people, said DPO Jhang Salman Chaudhry, where SSP was formed in the early 1980s.
Partial strike was observed in the area as people decided to remain at homes.
A demonstration was also staged in Islamabad where people started their march from Abpara Market to Melody Market. They burnt tyres to block the road and chanted slogans against the government. Protesters also blamed Rehman Malik for his alleged involvement in the killing of Ali Sher Haideri and said it was a conspiracy to ignite sectarian violence in the country.
Violent protests have also been reported in Gilgit.