KARACHI - After another sect-based target killing in the provincial metropolis, Rangers and the police on Sunday intensified crackdown on elements involved in sectarian violence and arrested prominent Shia cleric Allama Mirza Yousuf Hussain and secretary general of the proscribed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) Taj Hanfi.

Security forces raided the residence of prominent Shia scholar Allama Mirza Yousuf Hussain near Noor-e-Emaan Masjid and Imambargah in Nazimabad early Sunday. Hussain is also prayer leader at the Noor-e-Emaan Masjid and a senior leader of the Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM).

Moreover, Rangers and the police carried out a raid on Siddiq-e-Akbar Masjid in the Nagan Chowrangi area, headquarters of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ). They arrested ASWJ general secretary Maulana Taj Hanfi and shifted him to an undisclosed location. The law enforcers searched the entire mosque and seized hate material. They also raided Rizvia Imambargah and arrested four suspects. They seized religious literature during a two-hour search.

The security personnel arrested about 40 suspects so far in the ongoing crackdown on sectarian elements in the city. These people were arrested during raids on various places in Rizvia Society, Nazimabad, Nagan Chowrangi and New Karachi.

Meanwhile, another man fell prey to sect-based target killing.

Kamran Kazmi was killed and another man was injured critically when armed motorcyclists targeted members of the Shia community who were returning from a congregation in New Rizvia Society. Kazmi’s funeral prayers were offered in Ancholi Society. Family members, relatives and representatives of various Shia organisations attended his funeral prayers.

Separately, holding each other responsible for the current wave of target killings in the city, MWM and ASWJ condemned the arrest of their leaders-cum-religious scholars and demanded the PPP-led government for their immediate release.

MWM leaders said that rulers were providing shelter to the banned outfits and victimising a specific sect in Karachi. MWM leaders Syed Nasir Sherazi, Sunni Itehad Council Sahibzada Hamid Raza along with former senator Faisal Raza Abidi’s brother Mustafa Abidi stated this while addressing a joint press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC).

They demanded the government to release Faisal Raza Abidi and Allama Mirza Yousuf Hussain immediately or else party would announce its future course of action.

Faisal Raza Abidi was arrested on Saturday for reportedly facilitating sectarian unrest in the city.

Allama Mubashir Hasan, a prominent MWM leader, claimed that imambargah in Rizvia Society was raided on Sunday morning where holy books including the Holy Quran was desecrated.

On the other hand, Aurangzeb Farooqi, a central leader of ASWJ has condemned arrest of Allama Taj Hanfi. He said Hanfi was party’s candidate in Karachi for NA-258 by-polls and ruling government, fearing a strong contest in the constituency, arrested ASWJ leader.

Residents of the Rizvia Society also protested raid at Imambargah and alleged desecration of the holy books were made.

Responding to the allegations, Sindh Rangers said no such desecration was made by any of the Rangers personnel inside the Imambargah. Rangers said that pictures posted on the social media by some miscreants were misleading and contrary to the facts.

The spokesman of the Rangers said that purpose of such misleading activities, was aimed at creating hurdles in the way of the on-going operation against the criminals.

He pointed out that the sanctity of mosques, Imambargahs and Madaris is maintained during the information based search regarding presence of miscreants.