Posts Tagged ‘Lahore’

Coffins of Dr Haider and his son Murtaza.

Coffins of Dr Haider and his son Murtaza Haider.

Editor’s NOTE: The following op-ed, penned by me, was originally published in Daily Times on July 25, 2013. I’m pleased to cross-post the article on my blog from Daily Times without any editing. (Ali Salman Alvi)

A nation’s holistic building is not confined to parliament and constitution but the people of a country at large, for whom the constitution is made, parliament functions and lays the foundations of a nation. In other words, the citizens, majority as well as minority, form the very basis of a nation and then comes the judiciary, legislature and executive, which function juxtaposing all cohesively, and most importantly, to safeguard the fundamental rights of the people. The first and foremost priority of a state, where democracy is given an opportunity to flourish, should be to provide security to its own citizens. Religious, gender and linguistic differences need to be dealt with with tolerance and such differences should not be pandered to by the state, be it a secular or a theocratic state in nature. Pakistan being a theocratic state and Islam being the state religion, differences of faith and religious school of thought should not be encouraged as a weapon to fanatics to enable fanaticism further to wage war over tolerance and sanity prevailing amongst most of the countrymen.

Demarcation of religious lines cannot and should not infringe upon the security of the nationals. Shias in Pakistan have to face the purge of a religious demarcation that is ethically illogical and irrational by all means and ends attached to it. Such religious demarcations emanate from the school of thought that considers all those who do not adhere to them as infidels. Who is an infidel is a question that is hard to answer by mortals who interpret religious teachings keeping their ideology closest to being pious. Dr Ali Haider was one, according to the ‘Takfiri’ terrorists who cannot stand anyone apart from the ones following their ideology.

Pakistan lost an efficient surgeon who used to give away free contact lenses worth millions of rupees in eye camps every year. Pakistan lost a credible medical practitioner who made his name because his superior skills, unparallelled experience and humane hands had restored the sight of countless eyes. The killers did not just kill him. The12-year-old Murtaza, full of innocence and smiles, was shot too for being the son of a Shia doctor. They were killed to accomplish the Takfiri mission of ‘eliminating’ the Shia community from Pakistan. The country faced a bigger loss by losing a serviceman of humanity who treated many Pakistanis irrespective of their faith, but he was killed because of his faith.

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It has been over five months when four unidentified gunmen, riding on two motorcycles, sprayed the vehicle of Dr Haider with gunfire near Forman Christian College while he was en route to drop his son to his school. Dr Haider escaped the first hail of bullets as he accelerated his vehicle. The attackers, however, chased him down at a traffic signal on Canal Bank Road and opened fire at his car, killing him and his son. While the Punjab Police and some other officials tried their best to cast doubts on the motives of Dr Haider’s murderers, his elderly father Dr Zafar Haider knew why his son and grandson were butchered. “My son has been killed for being a Shia and a dedicated follower of the Holy Prophet (PBUH),” the grieving doctor told the media.

At the funeral of Dr Haider when I embraced his father, who was visibly doddering due to old age, I could not find a single word to offer my condolences to him. While Dr Haider and his son were being laid to rest, amid echoes of mournful cries, tears and people still in a state of shock, Dr Zafar was lost in deep thoughts sitting next to their graves. Tough to say what was going through his mind but I think he must have been thinking if this was the reward of serving humanity for two generations. The story of Dr Ali Haider and his son might have been over for most of us but definitely not for his bereaved family and it never will be. As the sun sets and sadness rages in Dr Haider’s widow’s heart, she screams out the same question every evening, “What wrong did we do to anyone?” I cannot begin to imagine the pain of the woman who lost her husband and her son in the blink of an eye.

Five days later the Sharif brothers ordered the arrest of the killers of Dr Haider and his son while addressing the media outside the slain doctor’s residence. Nawaz Sharif assured the media that Shahbaz Sharif was personally monitoring the case and was being kept up to date by the police force. He added that instructions had been given to the police to find those responsible immediately. But to no one’s surprise, the killers are still at large.

The four men who opened fire on Dr Haider’s vehicle are not the only killers of the renowned surgeon and his son. It is a mindset that produces hundreds of such killers in religious seminaries where they are taught that killing an infidel, read a Shia, will lead them to paradise. The irony is that it is no secret and yet the authorities have turned a blind eye to these hate-mongers wreaking havoc and killing off entire Shia families.

On the 30th of last month it was déjà vu in Hazara Town. At least 28 Shia from the Hazara community lost their lives while over 60 others sustained wounds when a suicide bomber blew himself up near an Imambargah in Aliabad area of Hazara Town, a Shia Hazara neighbourhood of Quetta. In another ghastly attack in February this year, a massive bomb ripped though a busy market in the same town, killing at least 90 people and injuring nearly 200. Having ignored the Alamdar Road tragedy in January and other various incidents of Shia killings, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry took suo motu notice of the Hazara Town massacre in February which, unlike other cases, sank into oblivion in no time. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed the aforementioned attacks but to date no action has been taken against the outfit that has blatantly taken responsibility for the mass killings of Shias in Balochistan and elsewhere. Let alone a crackdown on the LeJ, the PML-N government seems too reluctant to express its will to act against Ludhianvi and company. Thus, government only has token condemnations to offer after such massacres.

In the May 11 general elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had prohibited candidates from seeking votes in the name of religion or sects but it miserably failed to get its own directives implemented as candidates of the MDM, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat-i-Ulema-e-Islam flouted the directives. No action, however, was taken by the ECP against the said outfits. People like ASWJ chief Ahmad Ludhianvi and ASWJ Karachi chief Aurangzeb Farooqi not only contested elections but also spoke publicly about their intentions to make life miserable for the Shia community.

As long as the funding of organisations like SSP/ASWJ, spreading hatred against other sects, is not curbed and the deep state does not stop pandering to such elements, the carnage will continue. The Pakistan army, LEAs, civil authorities and intelligence agencies need to come clean on this very sensitive issue. The see-no-evil policy about Shia killings in Pakistan can yield horrific consequences. And to begin with a zero tolerance crackdown on outfits like LeJ would suffice — no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Source: VIEW : Remembering Dr Haider — Ali Salman Alvi

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Editor’s NOTE: The following piece, penned by Majid Sheikh, was published in Dawn on November 24, 2012. I’m pleased to cross-post the article on my blog from Dawn without any editing. (Ali Salman Alvi)

IN our school and college days we all loved to assist friends set up `sabeels` alongside Lahore`s traditional `Ashura` procession, providing cold drinks to the thousands who mourned. Sects and beliefs never mattered then. But then neither did one`s religion.
For well over 1,332 years, the tragedy of Karbala moves everyone who hears about it, be they Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh or any other religion. This is one incident that brings out the need to support those with a moral position.

As children we attended the `sham-ighareeban` with our Shia friends, and learnt the lesson of supporting those in the right. Everyone respected the beliefs of others. Yes, there were always a few silly chaps who wanted attention, but they were at best ignored.

The ancient city of Lahore is connected to the tragedy in no uncertain terms.

Historical accounts say seven brave warriors from Lahore died while fighting in the Battle of Karbala. It is said their father Rahab Dutt, an old man who traded withArabia in those days, had promised the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) to stand by his grandson in his fight to uphold the truth.

That pledge the brave Rajput Mohiyals of the Dutt clan from Lahore upheld.

Today they are known as Hussaini Brahmins, who lived in Lahore till 1947.

Then there is the fact that besides the Hindu Rajputs of Lahore, in the battle also fought John bin Huwai, a freed Christian slave of Abu Dharr al-Ghafari, whose `alleged` descendents, one researcher claims, still live inside the Walled City of Lahore.

I have been on the track of these ancestors for quite some time and have been able to trace one Christian family living inside Mori Gate. They claim to have a connection with a `Sahabi` whose name they cannot recollect. M. A. Karanpikar`s `Islam in Transition`, written over 250 years ago, made this claim, but I do not think it is a claim worth pursuing.

But the most powerful claim of Lahore as the place where the descendents ofHussain ibn All came lies in the Bibi Pak Daman graveyard, where the grave of Ruquiya, sister of Hussain ibn Ali and wife of Muslim ibn Ageel, is said to exist.

Also graves here attributed to the sisters of Muslim ibn Ageel and other family members. Many dispute this claim.

But then no less a person than Ali Hasan of Hajweri, known popularly as Data Sahib, came here every Thursday to offer `fateha` at the grave, informing his followers that this was the grave of Ruquiya. The place where he always stood to offer `fateha` has been marked out, and his book also verifies this claim. Mind you detractors exist, of this have no doubt, but the supporting evidence is quite strong.

Let me begin the story of the Dutts by going through the record of the Shaukat Khanum Hospital and the recorded fact that Indian film star Sunil Dutt, who belonged to Lahore, made a donation to the hospital and recorded the following words: `For Lahore, like my elders, I will shed every drop of blood and give any donation asked for, just as my ancestorsdid when they laid down their lives at Karbala for Hazrat Imam Husain.

Makes you think -but then there is this account which says that the seven sons of Rahab Dutt lost their lives defending the Imam at Karbala. The Martyr`s List at Qum verifies this. History records when the third thrust by Yazid`s forces came, the Dutt brothers refused to let them pass. The seven Punjabi swordsmen stood their ground till they were felled by hundreds of horsemen. In lieu of the loyalty of the Dutt family to that of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) was coined the famous saying: `Wah Dutt Sultan, Hindu ka dharm, Musalman ka iman, Adha Hindu adha Musalman.` Since then, so the belief goes, Muslims were instructed never to try to convert the Dutts to Islam.

A grieving Rahab returned to the land of his ancestors, and after staying in Afghanistan, returned to Lahore. I have tried my very best to locate their `mohallah` inside the Walled City, and my educated guess is that it is Mohallah Maulian inside Lohari Gate. Later theymoved to Mochi Gate, and it was there that the famous Dutts lived before 1947 saw them flee from the hate of the people they gave everything for.

The most interesting thing about the Hussaini Brahmins is that they are highly respected among Hindus, and even more amazingly it is said that all direct ancestors of Rahab Dutt are born with a light slash mark on their throat, a sort of symbol of their sacrifice. I was reading a piece by Prof Doonica Dutt of Delhi University who verified this claim and said that all true Dutts belong to Lahore.

I must point out to an amazing version of these events that an Indian historian, Chawala, has come up with. It says that one of the wives of Hazrat Imam Husain, the Persian princess Shahr Banu, was the sister of Chandra Lekha or Mehr Banu, the wife of an Indian king Chandragupta. We know that he ruled over Lahore. When it became clear that Yazid ibn Muawiya was determined to eliminate Hussain ibn Ali, the son of Hussain (named Ali) rushed off a letter to Chandragupta asking for assis-tance. The Mauriyan king, allegedly, dispatched a large army to Iraq to assist. By the time they arrived, the Tragedy of Karbala had taken place.

In Kufa in Iraq a disciple of Hazrat Imam Husain is said to have arranged for them to stay in a special part of the town, which even today is known by the name of Dair-i-Hindiya or `the Indian quarter` The Hussaini Brahmins believe that in the Kalanki Purana, the last of 18 Puranas, as well as the Atharva Veda, the 4th Veda, refers to Hazrat Imam Husain as the avatar of the Kali Yug, the present age. They believe that the family of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him)is Om Murti, the most respected family before the Almighty.

All these facts bring me back to our days as school children working hard to provide relief to the mourners on Ashura. Reminds me of our neighbour Nawab Raza Ali Qizilbash, who invited us to his `haveli` every year to see the preparations before the event. Raza Bhai is no more, and neither is the tolerance that we all enjoyed so much.

Source:  Karbala and how Lahore was involved  – Majid Sheikh