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After Sehwan horror, family waits for news of 'missing' loved ones

After Sehwan horror, family waits for news of 'missing' loved ones

Some seven weeks have passed since Ghulam Qadir Birohi ? a 55-year-old eyewitness to the devastating blast at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan ? last saw eight members of his family.

What has made grieving for his slain loved ones even more difficult is that three of them still haven't been found.

The suicide bombing in February at the shrine killed nearly 100 people while hundreds others were injured.

Birohi, a resident of Dadu, a bordering district of Jamshoro where the shrine is located, works as a peasant and is laden with responsibility as the elder of his family.

To the grief-stricken man, it seems that progress in the blast investigation and the search for his three 'missing' family members has reached a stalemate.

Five of the eight family members Birohi buried included two of his daughters-in-law, a four-month-old infant, his 14-year-old grandson, and his eight-year-old granddaughter.

He could not, however, locate two of his cousins aged 40 and 50-years-old, and a three-year-old son of one of his other relatives. His 'missing' family members were visiting from Shikarpur for pilgrimage to the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.

"Officials had collected blood samples to run tests but the results of the DNA were never declared," he said.

"It seems as if the Sindh and federal governments have forgotten about the Sehwan tragedy," a dejected Birohi added.

He also claimed that families of the victims and survivors have yet to receive the compensation money the provincial government had promised.

"One of my cousins, 60-year-old Azeeman, was critically injured in the blast. She was admitted to a nearby hospital in Sehwan but was later sent to Nawabshah where she received treatment for some 21 days ? all paid for by our family," the poor farmer said.

Birohi, who supports the Pakistan Peoples Party also claimed that Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah ? whose constituency is Birohi's village ? is yet to visit the area and offer condolences in person to the grieving families.

Another relative, Yousuf Birohi, told Dawn that both the federal and provincial governments should take action against those who, in an attempt to clean the site, had reportedly picked up the dismembered body parts and threw them in a drain near Sehwan.

The Sindh CM had taken notice of the alleged dumping of remains of the victims of the suicide attack in a garbage heap and an open drain in Sehwan, and ordered an inquiry into the matter.

"It is an unethical, irreligious and inhuman act and the government should punish such officials," Yousuf added, wondering if the remains of his three 'missing' family members will ever be found.

Ghulam Qadir Birohi recalled how the horror of the suicide blast unfolded at the shrine.

He said all his relatives visiting the shrine had gone inside the premises while he waited at the main gate for the caretaker of the shoes to give him a token.

"I was at the golden gate when I heard a loud boom followed by the cries of people," Birohi said.

"I rushed inside looking for my family but all I could see was blood oozing out from the bodies of devotees who were either critically injured or had died," the peasant said.

It was a bizarre sight, Birohi said, adding that body parts like arms, heads and legs were scattered all over the place.

"I found the bodies of four of my family members at the same spot in the shrine. But I found the body of my four-month-old grandson, Mujahid, lying on the floor in the local hospital with other corpses," he said.

Birohi's son, Munir, who lost his 21-year-old wife Tahmina and their son in the blast, said that his wife had been excited for the visit the family had planned.

They had wanted to take Mujahid to the shrine for blessings, Munir added.

"I remember how happy Tahmina was and how cheerfully she played with our son," the grieving widower recalled, lamenting that a day which started on such a happy note ended with unforgettable grief.

The senior Birohi's wife, Kheeran, couldn't hold back her tears when she shared how much she missed her grandson.

"I wanted to see Mujahid grow up, get married, and have lots of children but at four months of age, he became a victim of terrorism," Kheeran said.

To fight the biting emptiness of their humble abode, Mujahid's grandmother spends most of her time reading the Holy Quran in hopes that her prayers get answered soon.

For the child's father, peace is difficult to come by. He will not be satisfied until he sees the accused behind the blast hanged.

Exasperated, he said the government needs to expedite the investigation to find the culprits and also follow up on its plan to pay the victims' families compensation.

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