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Killing of Hindu youth heightens communal tension in Ghotki

By Waseem Shamsi 2016-07-28
SUKKUR: A Hindu youth was shot dead and his companion wounded in Mirpur Mathelo town of Ghotki district on Wednesday as religious parties and organisations continued their protest for a second consecutive day over an alleged incident of sacrilege of the Holy Quran in Daharki, another town of the district, a day earlier.

Sateesh Kumar, 18, and Avinash, 17, both intermediate students, were sitting at a roadside teashop when two armed men riding a motorcycle arrived their and opened fire on them at about 12.30am. Sateesh died instantly andAvinash sustained serious wounds in the attack. The victims were rushed to the Mirpur Mathelo Civil Hospital, where doctors referred Avinash to a major hospital in Rahim Yar Khan. The attackers escaped after committing the crime.

The deadly attack turned outrage over sacrilege into communal tension as several Hindu organisations protested against the murder.

Wednesday morning witnessed an extremely tense atmosphere across the district as Hindu traders kept their businesses closed in mourning and Muslim demonstrators continued their protest against sacrilege for the second consecutive day.Activists of both communities held protest rallies and demonstrations but Muslim and Hindu leaders urged communal harmony warning their followers of a conspiracy by vested interests to pit the two communities against each other.

All business, commercial and other routine activities throughout the district remained suspended due to protest rallies and demonstrations held by activists of the two communities.

Family members of the Hindu victims of firing told the media that Sateesh and Avinash were college mates and worked on a part-time basis.

Sateesh worked as a salesman at a generalstoreand Avinashisaself-employedsalesman of children`s articles. The Hindu Punchayat of Ghotki comprising nine top leaders (Mukhias) held an emergency meeting which was presided over by Eshwar Lal at the Hindu Punchayat hall in Mirpur Mathelo in the morning to discuss the situation arising out of the alleged sacrilege and murderous attack. The meeting gave a call for a day of mourning by observing a shutdown across Ghotki district.

It called for protection to the life and property of the Hindu community and immediate arrest of the attackers.

Sukkur DIG Syed Feroze Shah and Ghotki SSP Masud Bangush rushed to Mirpur Mathelo in the morning and held a meeting with the Punchayat lead-ers. They held out the assurance that the attackers would be arrested within the next 48 hours.

They urged the leaders not give a call for a shutdown, but the leaders did not withdraw it.

Sharing the background of the sacrilege suspect with the media, the DIG said that according to the police record he was a mentally challenged youth who twice embraced Islam, once at the Bharchundi Sharif shrine, located in Daharki, and later in Sanghar.

The DIG said the suspect had not been in touch with his family for years.

`Currently, he is in police custody for interrogation and medical examination,` the official said.