Families of two men missing since Ashura blast losing hope

shiite14-300x221 The family of Younis Soomro, the sole breadwinner of his six dependents who went missing after the Ashura blast, are subsisting on the handouts of a charity organisation as they wait for news about him. The four siblings of Mukhtar Soomro, Younis’s nephew who accompanied him on the fateful day and also went missing, have moved to their hometown in Larkana after desperately waiting for their elder brother’s return. As many as 45 people were killed and nearly 100 others were wounded when a planted improvised explosive device ripped through the main Ashura procession on M.A. Jinnah Road. “I don’t know what to believe and what not to. There should be at least some way of finding out what exactly happened to my husband,” said Afroz Soomro. It was the Ashura morning when Younis Soomro, 50, and Mukhtar Soomro, 30, went to participate in the mourning procession. Younis was also accompanied by his son Ali Raza, 6, and the boy’s cousin Sultan, 15. Ali Raza had to answer the call of nature and Sultan took him to a nearby facility for the purpose. As they were returning to join their elders, a blast ripped through the procession. Sultan suffered injuries but Raza remained unhurt. “We were behind and they were ahead of us. We were going towards them when it (the blast) occurred,” the six-year-old boy recalled. Teenager Sultan was shifted to the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK), where he was given treatment and discharged shortly afterwards as he had suffered only superficial injuries in the head. His six-year-old cousin remained with him all the time. After being discharged from the hospital, Sultan started to look for his relatives, searched for them in the CHK and walked to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), but failed to find either Younis or Mukhtar. It was around 3.30am when Sultan and Ali Raza reached home in Qazzafi Town, near Quaidabad, asking Afroz if Younis and Mukhtar had returned. The following morning, Afroz borrowed money from Younis’ employer and set out to look for Younis and Mukhtar. “I looked for them in the CHK, JPMC and Liaquat National Hospital. Initially police pushed me out and did not allow me to look for my husband in the hospital,” Afroz said. Even the doctor at the CHK was also unwilling to listen to her, she recalled. Someone at the hospital guided her to the office of a welfare organisation near Mehfil-i-Shah-i-Khurasan. “They filled in a form with particulars given by me and once again they took me to the CHK where they showed me some human feet and pieces of flesh,” she said. “I took a look at the feet, as Younis had burn marks on his foot. But I told them how I could identify someone by looking at pieces of flesh.” The woman was taken to the Edhi morgue at Shorab Goth also, but could not recognise any of the human remains there. “You can understand what happens to a house where two able-bodied men suddenly go missing,” Afroz said, adding that she was a hypertension and diabetes patient. Younis has four daughters and a son. Mukhtar was single with two sisters and two brothers to look after. She said she was grateful to the nongovernmental organisation which, according to her, had been paying the rent of the house they live in, the fees of her school-going children and also providing for the daily expenses. She, however, apprehended that this dependence could not go for long. Younis worked at a laundry, pressing garments. “We were happy and contented with our lives,” Afroz said. She said blood samples of Ali Raza and Sultan were taken at the NGO’s office. “They told me that this could help establish the fate of Younis and Mukhtar,” Afroz said. However, a month following the deadly blast, Afroz has become sceptical about the future of her children.Since the death of Younis and Mukhtar has not been established, the family has not received any government assistance in this regard. Asked if any government official has visited her home to inquire how they were surviving, her answer was in the negative. The police have already sent 15 samples obtained from the human remains found at the scene of the blast for DNA testing, but results are awaited.In the days following the blast, it emerged that three persons who were part of the procession had been missing. On Jan 20, a severed head was found near a bakery close to the blast scene on M.A. Jinnah Road. The severed head was identified as that of Ejaz Husain, who had gone missing following the Ashura carnage. End.


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