KARACHI - Scores of religious activists on Sunday squatted on roads besieging the Governor’s House in protest over the killing of a Shia cleric late on Saturday evening.

The protest rally-cum-sit-in against the murder of Askari Raza, 40, was continuing until the filing of this report.

Marching through different roads making a 15-kilometre-long stretch, the protest rally was taken out at 2pm from Shuhda-e-Karbala imambargah, Incholi. After stopping by Ali Raza imambarghah, Numaish Chorangi, for Maghribain prayers, the procession once again moved towards its destination, the Governor’s House, at 8 o’clock in the evening. Unofficial estimates put the number of demonstrators around 16,000. However, this tally was reported to be continuously rising.

Raising slogans against the government and governor for their callousness towards the Shia community’s issues, the enraged activists demanded the registration of a case against killer(s) of the cleric.

They also pressed for a prompt action against CID SSP Chaudhry Aslam Khan who, according to them, had a hand in the assassination.

“The government’s lethargy has forced Shia leaders to hold the funeral procession in front of the Governor’s House instead of Wadi-e-Hussain graveyard,” said a demonstrator.  It may be mentioned here that Askari Raza had been killed and his companion wounded in an attack on Rashid Minhas Road in the limits of the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Police Station. The victim was the chairman of the Millat-e-Jafariya’s Legal Aid Committee.

Earlier, several members of Shia organisations blocked Shahrah-e-Pakistan for several hours, where Maulana Nazir Naqvi and Maulana Yousuf Hussain Mirza addressed the procession.

Maulana Ali Muhammad, Maulana Munawar Naqvi, Allama Furqan Haider Abidi, Maulana Shabi-ur-Raza, Maulana Baqui Zaidi, Maulana Shehryar Naqvi, Syed Muhammad Naqi (Tanzeem-e-Aza), Salman Mujtaba, Tasawer advocate and other Shia leaders also participated in the rally.

In his address, Maulana Naqvi said that during the past few months, some culprits belonging to law-enforcement agencies were conspiring against the Shia community, while the murder of Askari was also its part. “Everyone knows that he was vigorously involved in legal affairs of the Shia community, for this reason was killed,” he said, and alleged that CID official Chaudhry Aslam Khan had involvement in the killing.

He said that “SSP Khan was trying to get rid of Askari from the cases of some innocent Shia people, and in this course he also tried to bribe the victim. As he did not oblige, the “criminal” SSP hurled him life threats and ultimately made a plot to finish him off”.

Saying that the SSP had links with banned outfits, Naqvi demanded the government to start a prompt action against him.  Tasawer advocate, while speaking on the occasion, said that the deceased was working for the release of innocent Shia people from the illegal detention of the CID Anti-Extremist Cell.

Renovation of Shaheed-i-Millat Road commences: The repair and renovation work of Shaheed-i-Millat Road had commenced which would be completed within the current month. This was stated by the Administrator Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), Muhammad Hussain Syed on Sunday. He said that with this the flow of traffic from Shaheed-i-Millat and Tipu Sultan Road to Share Faisal would be restored. Muhammad Hussain Syed pointed out that Shaheed-i-Millat Road is an important thoroughfare of the metropolis. Because of wear and tear of this road the traffic jam at Tipu Sultan Road became a daily affair. Besides, during rains three to four feet of water used to accumulate at many points thus obstructing the flow of traffic.

Administrator KMC directed the Chief Engineer East that the repair and renovation of Tipu Sultan Road up to Baloch Colony bridge be so carried out that the traffic jam problem be resolved.