Quetta shuts down to protest Shia killings
* Protesters torch three houses
* Demand immediate arrest of those involved in the incident
By Mohammad Zafar
QUETTA: A shutter-down strike was observed in parts of Quetta on Wednesday against the killing of 29 pilgrims in Mastung on Tuesday.
The strike call was given by Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) and Thafuz-e-Hizazdari Council. The strike was observed in Hazara areas like Almdar Road, Kirani road, Hazara Town and Mariabad. All shops, banks and trading centres were closed in these areas. People put up barricades and blocked the western bypass road, staged a sit-in and burned tyres. Traffic was suspended for several hours on this road. The people demanded the immediate arrest of the culprits behind the attack. A case was registered against unidentified persons in Levies Thana Mastung.
Twenty-three of the pilgrims who were shot dead in Mastung have been buried at Hazara graveyard in Western Bypass in Quetta in the presence of hundreds of mourners. Two dead bodies were dispatched to Loralai district, while two of the victims, who were from Afghanistan, were sent to their ancestral town.
People, including women and children, present in the graveyard, raised slogans against the government and law enforcement agencies for their failure to protect human lives. Stringent security measures were adopted during the funeral prayers to prevent any untoward incident. While police have rounded up over 200 Afghan refugees, Balochistan Home Secretary Nasebullah Khan Bazai said that no arrest had so far been made in connection with Mastung incident. Protesters set three houses on fire on Kirani Road on the outskirts of the city.
“According to preliminary reports, a group of people were staging a protest against the Mastung incident,” PS Barori sources said, adding that during the protest, the protestors torched three houses.
Law enforcement personnel rushed to the site soon after the incident and dispersed the protesters. Fire brigade vehicles extinguished the fire after hectic efforts.
The government came under heavy criticism from the Shia community and the HRCP on Wednesday after the worst attacks on the Shia minority in a year. It was the deadliest attack on Shias in Pakistan since September 4, 2010, when a suicide bomber killed at least 57 people at a rally in Quetta.