Therhi/Khaipur massacre, 49th anniversary of the first large scale sectarian attack in Pakistan
One hundred and eighteen Shia Muslims were martyred in Therhi on June 6, 1963 on the sacred day of ‘Yom-e-Aashura’ during the tenure of military dictator Ayub Khan. They sacrificed their precious lives for the sacred cause of the protection of Azadari.
THEHRHI is located around 8 kilometer when we travel by road from district Khairpur to Sukkur. In 1963, the population of THERHI was around 4 to 5 thousands, out of them 99 percent belonged to the nasbi ‘Wahabi Sect’ while there was only one house of Shia named Mehdi Shah. There was also a very big Madrassa of Wahabis in the locality. On 6th of June, a Majlis (congregation to commemorate the tragedy of Karbala) was being held in which around 15 to 20 Maumineen (Shias) had gathered.
A Jaloos(religious procession) was also scheduled after this gathering, but during the gathering some stalwarts attacked and severely injured the audience.
The news of this mishap was reported by Nawab Sultan Hussain to the residents of Mohalla Luqman (a nearby thickly populated locality of Shias) around 2 p.m. where a religious procession had already been brought out.
Maumineen became very sentimental by this news and raised Alams (Sacred flags hoisted during the procession) and said ‘Let the procession of THERHI should be brought out first, we would have later’. In this situation the uncle of Allama Irfan Haider Abidi (late) namely Sibtain Hussain, who was a renowned Zakir-e-Hussain (orator) came forward and said ’ Today it’s a war between Hussainiat and Yazidism’. Hearing this, the participants of mourning procession marched towards THERHI shouting slogans of ‘Ya Ali.’
The processionists, who marched towards THERHI, comprised of people from children aged 8 years to persons of 55 years. They had to cross Khairpur city to reach THERHI therefore the procession of Aashura was also taken out in Khairpur .The residents of Luqman said to people of Khairpur to accompany them, at this time some people said that enemy has planned attack and they should also prepare to counter, however, ignoring the facts, around 4 to 5 thousand people of Luqman and Khairpur marched towards THERHI, all of them unarmed except Naseem Haider Abbas (who was martyred) had got a revolver. When they reached THERHI it was around 6 p.m. close to dusk.
On the other hand the residents of THERHI were well armed and hidden on several places to attack.
The house of Mehdi Shah was in the middle of THERHI, the lanes were narrow, hardly 3 feet wide and due to firing and stone pelting only 150 to 200 people were able to reach his house, the rest awaited outside the city.
At the time of dusk someone said that the Army has arrived and hearing. This the people who went there without planning and leadership left for Khairpur. After the departure of these people, the Wahabis of THERHI encircled the Imambargah (place of congregation) of Mehdi Shah and in a brutal way, following the tradition of their ancestors, killed the Shias ruthlessly with the help of rifles, axes, knives and stone pelting. Further they put to the fire Shamiana (shade)which fell on the injured people. Even cattle were hurled on the dead and injured to inflict further pain.
At midnight, Wahabis of THERHI impersonated them as Shias, took empty water buckets and shouted the slogan of ‘Ya Hussain’ walking in groups among the injured and deceased. They were asking if someone need water, whoever requested for water they slaughtered him ruthlessly. (It must be noted that most of the people who slaughtered Maumineen were the Hafiz-e-Quran, students of Wahhabi madrassa. In this way, the Maumineen sacrificed their lives but did not ask for help and died following the tradition of Hazrat Imam Hussain (A.S.)
Now almost all of the Maumineen in THERHI were martyred, but the tyranny of Wahabis was not over. To hide their heinous crime they collected all the dead bodies and put them in an empty well and planned to burn them after putting kerosene oil. However, the police arrived and took the dead bodies into custody. Another reason for the failure in the burning of dead was that The Assistant Director Information of that time Mr. Ishtiaq Azher and the reporter of APP Mr. Ali Akbar Zaidi had already released the news of the death of more then 100 people to the local and international media.
Later the dead bodies were shifted to the Civil Hospital Khairpur from THERHI and kept in hospital’s compound. Among them there was a body of a Wahabi, which was stinking. The doctors kept his body separately. The relatives took their bodies after identification to their houses without post-mortem. Next day the burial of the martyrs was started, which took place on several places. However, on the advice of the leader of the congregational prayer of the Central Mosque of Mohalla Luqman, Molana Safdar Hussain, the martyrs of Luqman were buried at one place which was named Ganj-e-Shaheedan (the adobe of the martyrs).
It must be noted that next day when the bodies were carried for burial, almost 22 to 23 hours had been passed, the weather was extremely hot and there was a failure of electricity at several places. Despite all these facts, the bodies of martyrs were fresh and even blood was running from several of them.
Around 5 p.m. all dead bodies which were 32 in number were gathered in the Central Imambargah of Luqman. Among the dead there were the bodies of two young brothers, whose father was standing nearby, and when someone condole him on the death of his sons he replied with patience ‘My sons were not better than the sons of Hazrat Zainab (peace b e upon her). There were two families in Luqman, whose two sons were martyred in this tragedy. The bodies were taken to the graveyard around 6 p.m. from Central Imambargah.
It should be noted that the population of Mohallah Luqman was around 6 to 7 thousand at that time, among them around 90 percent were Shias and 10 percent were Sunnis who were mainly concentrated in Kawnpur colony. After the tragedy of THERHI, when almost from every lane one or two persons’ bodies was taken for burial, the people of Kawnpur colony became very frightened and due to the fear of retaliation, they started migrating from their houses. When the Shias of Luqman asked them about the reason, they expressed their apprehension, at that moment the Shia assured them of their security and told them that we have grievances against the people of THEHRH and they remained there.
The people of Luqman also saw, the character of the follower of Imam Hussain A.S., when the burial procession of 32 martyrs that consisted of thousands of people crossed Kawnpur colony, neither even a single stone was pelted nor any resident was disturbed. After observing this character, the leader of the congregational prayer of the Kawnpur colony mosque, Mr. Siddique, who used to recite Marsia written by his father on loudspeaker all night, started attending the Majalis (religious gathering in the memory of the tragedy of Karbala) and also started reciting his own composed Marisas. When he died, people offered his Namaz-e-Janaza twice, once by the Shias because he said in his will that he should be buried as Shia. He also said in his will that second namaz-e-janaza should be held by the Sunnis because they considered him the leader of the congregational prayer.