The 11 January 1998 Mominpura graveyard killing in Lahore and on any subsequent arrests [PAK32845.E]

On the morning of 11 January 1998, in the month of Ramadan, three or four unidentified gunmen fired automatic weapons on a gathering of approximately 200 Shi'a worshippers who were celebrating the death anniversary of Ustad Mohammad Hussain at the Mominpura graveyard off McLeod Road in Lahore, Punjab (Business Recorder 12 Jan. 1998a; The Herald Feb. 1998, 46; DWS 12 Jan. 1998; Oppression n.d.; The Hindu 12 Jan. 1998). At least 22 people were declared dead, while the 50 or so injured were taken to several hospitals throughout the city (Business Recorder 12 Jan. 1998a; DWS 12 Jan. 1998; The Hindu 12 Jan. 1998). Twenty-one of the injured were discharged from hospital after receiving first aid, while 29 others were admitted for "regular specialised medical treatment" (Business Recorder 19 Jan. 1998a). Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered that all admitted victims be handled by a team of top specialists free of charge (ibid.). By 14 January 1998 the total number of Mominpura dead had risen to 25 (ibid. 14 Jan. 1998a). Zaigham Khan, writing in the Karachi-based English-language monthly journal The Herald, described the Mominpura attack as the "worst of its kind in this country's history" (Feb. 1998, 46).

Locals blamed the police for not having provided adequate security arrangements for the Shi'i gathering (DWS 12 Jan. 1998; Business Recorder 12 Jan. 1998a). Mobs of angry local residents burnt tires, stoned vehicles and shops, burned a police kiosk, and vandalized government offices and district courts (The Herald Feb. 1998, 46; Business Recorder 12 Jan. 1998a; VOA 12 Jan. 1998). Police dispersed the rampaging Shi'a demonstrators with teargas (ibid.).

Immediately following the massacre, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif stated in a 11 January 1998 afternoon press conference that a Lahore High Court judge would hold an enquiry into the Mominpura attack (Business Recorder 12 Jan. 1998b). The Chief Minister stated that he would request the judge to complete the enquiry within 15 days "so that those found guilty of negligence in providing protection to the citizens would be taken to task" (ibid.).

Although one of the commemoration organizers stated that he had requested police security (Business Recorder 12 Jan. 1998a), police were not present at the annual event, even though police had always been present in the past (DWS 12 Jan. 1998). However, police statements to Justice Rao Iqbal Ahmad Khan, the one-man tribunal of the Lahore High Court, appeared contradictory: Police DIG Shaukat Javed stated that the police deputed to the congregation did not react to the attack nor did they chase the culprits, whereas a former-Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) stated that the police had not been informed of the Mominpura Shi'a gathering nor had the community requested police security (Business Recorder 20 Jan. 1998).

Police blamed the attack on five Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants involved in sectarian-related killings who had escaped from Dera Ghazi Khan Jail on 26 December 1997 (DWS 12 Jan. 1998; The Herald Jan. 1999; Business Recorder 12 Jan. 1998a; The Herald Jan. 1998, 77). Riaz Basra, chief of the Sunni extremist militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, linking it to the custodial death the previous day of Allah Wasaya, a local Jhangvi activist believed to have masterminded the jailbreak (The Herald Feb. 1998, 46; ibid. Jan. 1999; Oppression n.d.; The Hindu 12 Jan. 1998). Writing in The Herald, Zaigham Khan stated that "following the Mominpura massacre, there appears to be a consensus within the Punjab police that the attack was carried out deliberately to terrorise the police and the judiciary" (Feb. 1998, 9).

In the days following the massacre, police swept through Sunni mosques, offices and religious schools, arresting hundreds of Sunnis in connection with the Mominpura attack (VOA 13 Jan. 1998). Dozens of activists from the Sunni militant group Sipah-e-Sahaha Pakistan (SSP) were also detained to prevent any retaliatory attacks (Dawn 13 Jan. 1998). Lahore police were present throughout the major roads of the city, and commandos and plainclothesmen were deployed at all "sensitive points" to prevent other similar attacks (Business Recorder 14 Jan. 1998c).

On 14 January 1998 the Tahrik/Tahreek-e/i-Jaffaria Pakistan (TJP) held a procession and staged a rally in front of the Hyderabad Press Club to protest the Mominpura massacre (Business Recorder 14 Jan. 1998b). Rally speakers rejected the official enquiry commission and demanded that the enquiry be carried out under the supervision of the Ulema, Army and Supreme Court (ibid.). That day the TJP also called for a strike and announced three days of mourning (ibid. 14 Jan. 1998c).

On 18 January 1998 Inspector General of the Punjab Police, Jehanzeb Burki, denied the reported arrest of a Hafiz Ghulam Farid, allegedly one of the perpetrators of the Mominpura massacre (Business Recorder 18 Jan. 1998a).

On 18 January 1998 Rana Ijaz Ahmad Khan, the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission, Pakistan Bar Council, filed a writ petition with the Lahore High Court challenging the constitution of a tribunal to probe the Mominpura massacre, stating that such a tribunal was a futile effort on the part of the government to find those responsible and contending that an independent agency should be hired to track them down (Business Recorder 18 Jan. 1998b).

On 19 January 1998 Business Recorder reported statements from PPP leaders that the government's decisions to suspend and transfer police and administrative officials following the Mominpura attack and the subsequent riots in Lahore were an attempt by the government to "conceal its failure."

On 29 January 1998 Justice Rao Iqbal Ahmad Khan recorded the statements of CID Police Lahore, Tariq Pervaiz, then adjourned further proceedings till 2 February 1998 (Business Recorder 29 Jan. 1998).

No information on whether individuals were arrested, charged and/or convicted for the Mominpura attack could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


Business Recorder [Karachi/Lahore]. 29 January 1998. "Mominpura Incident Tribunal Records Statement of CID Chief." http://www.brecorder.com [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

_____. 20 January 1998. "Mominpura Probe Tribunal Records Statements of Police, Administration Officials." http://www.brecorder.com [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

_____. 19 January 1998a. "25 Mominpura Victims Still Under Treatment at Mayo Hospital." http://www.brecorder.com [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

_____. 19 January 1998b. "PPP Criticises Government." http://www.brecorder.com [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

_____. 18 January 1998a. "Mominpura Carnage: No One Held So Far, Says Inspector General Police." http://www.brecorder.com [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

_____. 18 January 1998b. "Mominpura Case: Tribunal Challenged." http://www.brecorder.com [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

_____.14 January 1998a. "Mominpura Death Toll Reaches 25." http://www.brecorder. com [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

_____. 14 January 1998b. "Hyderabad Rally Demands Arrest of Mominpura Killers in 2 Days." http://www.brecorder.com [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

_____. 14 January 1998c. "Business Activity Remains Slow in Lahore." http://www.brecorder.com [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

_____. 12 January 1998a. "22 Killed, Over 50 Injured in Terrorist Attack on Majlis." http://www.brecorder.com [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

_____. 12 January 1998b. "Mominpura Killings: Lahore High Court Judge to Hold Enquiry: Shahbaz." http://www.brecorder.com [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

Dawn [Karachi]. 13 January 1998. "Dozens of SSP Activists Arrested." http://dawn.com [Accessed 13 Jan. 1998]

Dawn Wire Service (DWS). 12 January 1998. "Massacre in Lahore Leaves 22 Dead." http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/Saserials/Dawn/1998/ 17Ja98.html [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

The Herald [Karachi]. January 1999. Azmat Abbas. "Law and Order."

_____. February 1998. Vol. 29, No. 2. Zaigham Khan. "The Tragedy of Mominpura."

_____. January 1998. Vol. 29, No. 1. Abdul Sattar Qamar. "The Great Escape."

The Hindu [Chennai/Madras]. 12 January 1998. "23 Killed in Pak. Sectarian Violence." http://www.webpage.com/hindu/daily [Accessed 12 Jan. 1998]

Oppression. n.d. "Turning Pakistan into a Sectarian Battleground." http://www.opression.org [Accessed 6 Oct. 1999]

Voice of America (VOA). 13 January 1998. "Pak Violence." gopher://gopher.voa.gov [Accessed 13 Jan. 1998]

_____. 12 January 1998. "Pak Violence 2nd Update(S)." gopher://gopher.voa.gov [Accessed 12 Jan. 1998]

Additional Sources Consulted


Amnesty International Press Releases. January 1998-October 1999.

Amnesty International Report 1999. 1999.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1998.

The Herald [Karachi]. Monthly. January 1998-April 1998, November/December 1998.

Human Rights Watch World Report 1999. December 1998.

Research Directorate. IMR [Ottawa]. Weekly. January-May 1998.

Electronic sources: Internet, IRB Databases.