Karachi, June 22 (IANS) Unidentified gunmen shot dead renowned qawwal Amjad Sabri — whose late father and uncle enjoy huge popularity in India — on a Karachi street on Wednesday, stunning Pakistan.
In a clear case of targeted killing, two men riding a motorcycle fired several gunshots at Amjad Sabri when he was in a car in Liaquatabad area, the media reported.
Ghulam Ahmed, who witnessed the killing, told SAMAA TV that he saw the killers fire at one side of the car. He added: “Then they turned and fired four shots on the other side of the car.”
Police officer Mushtaq Mehar said the assassins apparently used 30-bore pistols and shot the singer five times, with one bullet piercing the head.
“The attackers took the Hassan Square route to escape,” said Mehar. The officer said the motive behind the killing was not immediately known.
The bleeding 45-year-old qawwal, whose song “More Haji Piya” figured in the 2008 Bollywood movie “Halla Bol”, was rushed to a nearby hospital but he succumbed to his injuries.
The car driver was in critical condition, media reports quoted doctors and police as saying.
“We have cordoned off the area and will arrest the culprits using all our resources,” Mehar added.
Fakhr-e-Alam, Chairman of the Sindh censor board, tweeted that Sabri had earlier submitted an application for security, but the home department did not act on it.
Mobashir Hasan, head of Pakistan’s censor board, told IANS that he was “highly saddened” by the “untimely death” of Amjad Sabri.
“He was a kind, simple and well-mannered person. He was truly a mystic and was on a divine mission of spreading love, peace and tolerance through music,” he said.
“My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, followers in Pakistan and (India).”
Pakistanis took to the social media in large numbers to express their distress over the horrific killing.
Popular actor-singer Ali Zaffar said: “This is extremely sad, disturbing and unacceptable, specially since he had submitted an application for his protection.”
Amjad Sabri was the scion of the legendary Sabri brothers who cemented a unique identity in the world of qawwali.
The Sabri family, originally from Rohtak in Haryana, rose to fame in the 1970s when the dynamic Ghulam Farid Sabri and Maqbool Ahmed Sabri went on to redefining the old genre of qawwali singing.
The two brothers — who popularly came to be known as “Sabri brothers” — were the first exponents of qawwali to the West when they performed in New York way back in 1975.
Amjad Sabri, who visited India last year, was unhappy with the makers of “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” for using his father’s song “Bhar do Jholi” without their consent. He had said he would take legal action.
Amjad Sabri had also once said he was not interested in working in India as he had earned enough money and fame in Pakistan.