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Hazara community protestors continue sit-in

15 April, 2019

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QUETTA: The Hazara community protestors blocked traffic in a sit-in demonstration for a third day in Quetta on Sunday after a suicide bomb killed at least 20 people in an outdoor market, many of them ethnic Hazaras.

Dozens were wounded in the blast on Friday on the outskirts of Quetta. Islamic State had claimed responsibility of the attack.

“We’ve lost hundreds of our loved ones in the last 10 years,” Tahir Hazara, leading the sit-in, said. “The government failed to protect our community. Terrorists are free to target us,” he lamented.

“Stop killing Hazaras,” the crowd chanted. “Down with terrorism and sectarianism.” The protesters said they will continue their sit-in till the arrest of the culprits. They also urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit Quetta.

The protesters, who include many women and children, have set up camps and burn wood to keep warm at night. One police official said there were about 200 people taking part on Sunday, blocking the key arterial Western Bypass leading into Quetta.

Dozens of Hazaras gathered in Karachi as well, some holding signs saying ‘Shias lives matter’. Friday’s bloodshed came two days after authorities freed Ramzan Mengal, a top leader of a banned sectarian group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). A private TV channel reported that body parts of the alleged suicide bomber have been sent for DNA test. Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema said the test reports, once issued, would be handed over to Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal, but did not specify when they would be issued.

The DIG said a team of CTD officials had visited the site of the attack in Hazarganji’s fruit and vegetable market to collect evidences.

Representing the protesters, Advocate Tahir Hazara expressed dismay over the federal government’s attitude and regretted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had no time to visit Quetta after the tragic incident of Hazarganji.

He said the government had failed to protect their lives, as terrorists were continuously targeting the Hazara community in Quetta. “We have lost hundreds of our loved ones during the last 10 years,” he added.

Advocate Tahir said the National Action Plan had been prepared by the parliament with consensus yet many points of NAP were not being implemented. It was for this reason that the people of Hazara community were being targeted by terrorists, he added.

“PM Khan should ensure full implementation of the National Action Plan,” he reiterated. The protesters also chanted slogans against the authorities for failing to protect the people against terrorist attacks.

While the provincial authorities contacted the protesters and assured NAP’s implementation, the latter refused to end their sit-in until all their demands are met.

Meanwhile, more workers of the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) joined in the protest and announced their support for the Hazara community.

Addressing a press conference, MWM Secretary General Allama Raja Nasir Abbas demanded that the federal government ensure implementation of NAP. He said frequent attacks against the Hazara community were giving a message to the world that Pakistan was not safe.

However, he said, no one was safe in Quetta. Along with ordinary masses, security personnel too had been martyred he said, adding that it raised questions over capabilities of the government. He said the state must act without further delay, because the people were tired of lifting the coffins of their loved ones.

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