Pakistan Sufi shrine blast: After attack, devotees perform daily rituals as a message to terrorists

Karachi: Grieving worshippers on Friday thronged the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Sufi shrine and performed daily rituals, sending a strong message to the terrorists who killed at least 88 people in a suicide attack there. The famous Sufi shrine at Sehwan in the Sindh province was
closed due to security reasons following the deadly attack by an Islamic State suicide bomber on Wednesday.

The 13th century Muslim Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar's shrine. AFP

The 13th century Muslim Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar's shrine. AFP

The white marble floor at the shrine was still marked by blood and a pile of abandoned shoes and slippers was heaped in the courtyard, many of them belonging to victims. The devotees performed 'Dhamal', a spiritual dance, after the sunset prayer. Security was tightened in an around the shrine after Thursday's attack.

Undeterred by the tragedy, the custodian of the shrine, Syed Mehdi Raza Shah, turned up at the designated place at 3.30am and stood amidst the remains of the carnage to defiantly rang a traditional bell, which is a daily ritual. "We will never bow before the terrorists," he said.
Shah told PTI from Sehwan that the devotees came despite the shrine being sealed off by the security forces for examination and collection of forensic evidence.

"Such cowardly terrorist attacks will never deter thousands of devotees of spiritual Sufi saints all over Pakistan from going to shrines to pray," he said. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa have also visited Sehwan and met the
injured in the hospital.

Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was a Sufi philosopher-poet of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. Earlier in the day, angry protesters today took to the streets against the Pakistan government's failure to provide security at the shrine. They damaged vehicles and set a police van on fire and
burnt tyres to block roads.

"There is only one scanner at the shrine for thousands of devotees who come to the shrine and even it was not working properly," a protester, who lost his brother and friends in the blast, told a television channel. Relatives of the injured people complained about improper medical care facilities at the civil hospitals in Sehwan and Nawabshah.

Initial investigations said that there was no proper electricity at the shrine when the attack took place. "Investigations point to the fact that the attacker came dressed in a Burqa and entered the shrine from the golden gate amidst the heavy crowd of devotees," DIG Hyderabad range
Manzoor Rind said.

Hyderabad is the largest city closest to the town of Sehwan where the shrine was attacked. Rind said the CCTV footage at the shrine was being
examined to identify the attack.

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Updated Date: Feb 17, 2017 21:12:55 IST

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