Bhopal-based noted Urdu poet Manzar Bhopali narrowly escaped a shootout by unidentified gunmen at a Mushaira in Karachi on Sunday night. Indore’s well known Urdu poet Rahat Indori, who too had gone to Pakistan, however, had returned earlier.
Another Indian shair Iqbal Ashar, who was with Manzar Bhopali, too escaped unhurt.
“Khatam ho chuka hai ye mulk…yahan ke log khud ye kah rahe hain…hum log 2 April ko lautne waale the, lakin ab jald laut rahe hain. ( Pakistan is finished. People here themselves are saying that. We had to return on April 2 but we are planning to return earlier)” Manzar Bhopali told from Karachi (Pakistan).
They were just outside the venue of the Mushaira in Clifton area of Karachi when firing started.
“ We were stuck in middle of the firing from three sides. We had to take cover for some time before we were escorted to safety by the organisers,” Manzar said. Two persons died in front of them in the shootout.
The Mushaira was organised by a unit of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)— a party that draws its power from Urdu-speaking residents of Karachi. Two other Indian poets, Rahat Indori and Wasim Barelvi, too were in Karachi for the poet meet. They returned earlier, Bhopali said.
Bhopali and Ashar had just arrived at the venue of the Mushaira at about 11.30 pm when the firing began. Manzar recalled that there were around 4000 to 5000 people at the venue. The firing lasted for 18 minutes. They lay on the ground until the firing ended. Further Mushairas have been postponed as violence has escalated in Karachi. More than 40 vehicles were set on fire on Tuesday, Bhopali said.
But, he added, they are safely lodged in a 5-star hotel. In Bhopal, Manzar’s worried family members requested him to return India at the earliest. “He is safe but the situation is not good in Pakistan. I have asked him to return to home at the earliest,” Manzar’s wife Tabassum told.