Amidst severe cold and light shower, the Hazara Shia minority of Quetta, Pakistan is mourning the death of their relatives who were killed in Thursday's blasts. More than 20 hours have passed since they brought 84 dead bodies to Alamdar Road and started a sit-in demanding the government to improve the security of the city and hand over its control to the army.
Protesters from the vulnerable community, including women, children and the elderly, joined a sit-in at Alamdar Road, a Shia-dominated neighbourhood where 92 people were killed in bomb blasts on Thursday.
They huddled around more than 80 bodies, most of them wrapped in white shrouds and covered with plastic sheets to protect them from the rain.
The Hazara Democratic Party also took out a rally in Quetta condemning the recent unrest in Balochistan. "The provincial government has badly failed to provide security; Quetta should be handed over to the army," they demanded.
Many woman clad in black broke down and wept while children and youth lit candles to pay tributes to the victims of the bombings.
Shia leaders have demanded that control of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, should be handed over to the army as the provincial government had failed to stop attacks by notorious sectarian groups like the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which claimed responsibility for Thursday's attacks.
Three bomb blasts ripped through Quetta on Thursday killing 95 and injuring 170. The target of two blasts was the Shia community, which has been facing animosity from Sunni extremists since the past few years.
A spokesman of the Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, a leading Shia group, told the media that the dead would not be buried till the community's demands are accepted.
Talking to rediff.com, Allama Syed Hashim Mawsoomi, a Shia leader said, "The protest will continue until our demands are accepted. We demands justice; we want operations against those who are targeting us. The army should come to our help."
Allama Zahir Shah, of the All Pakistan Action Committee said, "We have been disappointed by the government, but our sit-in will continue till the government takes some action."
Commenting over the incidents in Quetta, Katrina Lantos Swett, chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom said, "The murder of innocent civilians because of their religious beliefs is outrageous and tragic, and we extend our condolences to their families. In response, the Pakistani government must take concrete and meaningful action to protect the minority Shia Muslim community "
In Pakistan, according to a report, there an estimated 956,000 Hazara Shia, while in Quetta city the number is 600,000. Around 25,000 members of this sect have fled the country due to the fear of being killed.
Human rights activist Farzana Bari said that policies can only be changed when the entire nation comes to the street and strives for a change. "All the people should come out otherwise these innocent people will be killed like this," she said.
With inputs from PTI