12 killed as violence erupts in Raja Bazar Rawalpindi

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan – At least 12 persons were killed while more than 37 others sustained injuries as chaos and violence erupted in Raja Bazar located in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on Friday evening after unknown miscreants opened gunfire near the doorway of a central procession of the 10th Muharram, police sources said. However, the Shia community claims that firing was resorted from a religious school of the Deoband sect of Islam. Mobile phone service will remain closed in Rawalpindi for next 2 days. Mobile phone service was suspended for two days in Pakistan to avoid any terrorism, and service was supposed to open on November 15 at midnight.

JUI chief Mualana Fazlur Rehman has demanded security to take JUI members out of Darul Aloom Madrisah from where some people allegedly opened fire on a Shia procession. The Shia community in Pakistan claims that JUI has been involved directly or indirectly in killing Shias in Pakistan as the Deoband sect considers Shia Kafir. However, JUI has been in power with all political parties in the past since 1977, therefore, no action has ever been taken against its activities. Meanwhile JUI denies all these allegations.

The Rawalpindi Commissioner requested the provincial government to impose a curfew in the city to restore calm. The Punjab government has imposed a curfew in of Rawalpindi after sectarian clashes erupted in the city. The curfew is imposed on the request of Commissioner of the Rawalpindi Division while Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken a notice of the incident and asked the City Commissioner and RPO Rawalpindi to submit a report.

The sources said that unknown miscreants opened gunfire near Raja Bazar’s Fawara Chowk at which a wave of anger gripped the people and they set some shops in the cloth market on fire after demolishing them. Provoked people also snatched arms from duty policemen.

The situation prompted the authorities to call the army to control the situation, while fire tenders were also called by the authorities to extinguish the fire. Pakistan authorities arrested around 27 terrorists from different parts of the country who were planning to attack Shia processions of Ashura. All arrested terrorists belong to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claim police sources.

Ashura (10th of Moharram), was observed on November 15, 2013 with due solemnity and sanctity to remember the sacrifice rendered by Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A) and his companions in Karbala. Majalis (religious gatherings) and mourning processions were held across the country to highlight the philosophy of the Karbala incident and pay tributes to the martyrs.

Hussain ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (11 or 13 January 626 CE – 13 October 680 CE) (3rd / 5th Sha’aban 4 AH – 10th Muharram 61 AH) was the son of Ali ibn Abi Ṭalib (final Rashidun Caliph and first Shia Imam) and Fatimah Zahra (daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad) and the younger brother of Hasan ibn Ali.

Hussein is highly regarded by Muslims, because he refused to pledge allegiance to Yazid I the Umayyad caliph, because he considered the rules of the Umayyads unjust. As a consequence, he left Medina, his home town, and traveled to Mecca. There, the people of Kufa sent letters to him, asking his help and pledging their allegiance to him. So he traveled to Kufa.

There, his caravan was intercepted by Yazid’s army. He was killed and beheaded in the Battle of Karbala in 680 (61 AH) by Shimr Ibn Thil-Jawshan, along with most of his family and companions. The annual memorial for him, his family, his children, and his As’haab (companions) is called Ashura (tenth day of Muharram) and is a day of mourning for Shia Muslims. Anger at Husayn’s death was turned into a rallying cry that helped undermine and ultimately overthrow the Umayyad Caliphate.

Strict security measures were taken to provide security to religious gatherings as the government has suspended cellular phone services in over 80 cities besides banning pillion-riding on motorbikes in various sensitive cities, including Karachi, Hyderabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, and Quetta.

In Lahore‚ the main Zuljinnah procession was taken out from Nisar Hawaili at midnight last night. It was terminated at the Karbala Gamay Shah this evening after passing through its traditional routes.

In Peshawar‚ the main procession was taken out from Imambargah Qissa Khawani Bazar after Zohar prayers. It was culminated at the same point after passing through its traditional routes.

In Karachi‚ the main procession of Ashura was taken out from Nishtar Park which after walking through its traditional route of MA Jinnah road will be culminated at Hossania Imam Bargah in Kharadar.

In Quetta‚ the main procession of youm-e-Ashoor was taken out from Imambargah Alamdar road today and will terminate at the same point.

In different parts of the country, a number of Alam‚ Tazia, and Zuljinnah processions were also taken out.