LAHORE   -   A shocked silence had gripped the shrine on the night after the blast. People just sat in the compound praying in the melancholic calm of the place. They were not talking to each other as much as they used to before.

A second blast had hit the shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajveri after 2010; and this time during the holy month of Ramazan. Signs of gloom and anger were written large on their faces.

“May God curse those who unleash hell on the innocent souls. They are enemies of humanity and religion,”. Mohammad Asif, a devotee at the shrine, expressed his feelings over the sad incident.

The usual hustle and bustle was clearly missing at the shrine, a revered place which never sleeps. A few turned up to offer prayers and Taraveeh at the mosque adjacent to the shrine on Wednesday night. Sleeping area also presented a deserted look. A good number of homeless people from far-off cities spend nights at the compound. They run through a busy day doing odd jobs and come to the shrine in the evening for solace.

City administration had taken strict security measures after the incident. Police had cordoned off the shrine from all sides restricting vehicular access to the holy place which could be reached only after a short walk through the streets.

Located in the vicinity of the Walled City, the place is visited by thousands of people every day. They are from both the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam. It is a place where nobody would bother about such distinctions of faith and beliefs. They come, sit in meditation, and pray for their forgiveness.  The nights at the shrine are full of activity as the devotees come here to seek spiritual elevation. The place attracts even more disciples during Ramazan.

The adjacent streets offering free food (Lungar) to the devotees in normal conditions, also lacked the usual activity even at the Iftar time. A few were seen breaking fast at a place known for its bustle for years.  

“I have come here knowing the blast had hit the shrine earlier in the day. I have no fear of death at all.” Haji Shakeel Awan told this scribe. Shakeel performs security duty at a private office during the day and spends the night at the shrine compound like many other destitute. 

“Normality would return to the shrine very soon. People just cannot stop coming to this place. It will be business as usual by Friday,” a shopkeeper who makes Lungar (food) for the devotees showed his optimism.