Hours-long 'rigged polls' protests end in Karachi after tear gas and baton charges

Afzal Nadeem Dogar | Kashif Mushtaq
February 24, 2024

JUI-F, PTI, JI and GDA call off protests, announce observing "Black Day" on February 27 against alleged rigging in polls

KARACHI: The protests staged by four political parties — Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), Jamate-e-Islami (JI), and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — in Karachi against alleged rigging in the February 8 polls were called off on Saturday after several hours.

At first,PTI, GDA, and JI ended their protest and announced observing "Black Day" and staging peaceful protests on February 27 against alleged rigging in the February 8 polls. Later, JUI-F senior leader Rashid Soomro also ended a sit-in on Shahrae Faisal.

Commuters bore the brunt of the police's attempts to stop the political parties from gathering in the metropolis as they placed several blockades across the main artery — Sharea Faisal — and the roads leading up to the Sindh Assembly.

The political parties had chosen today as the protest date as the newly-elected members of the provincial assembly took oath and elected the speaker and deputy speaker.

When the workers, including women, gathered in different pockets to partake in the protest, the city's police fired tear gas and baton-charged them.

Following the announcement of protest by different political parties ahead of the Sindh Assembly's maiden session, the Sindh government on Friday imposed Section 144 in the south zone of the city to prevent any harm to security and order.

"... the Government of Sindh, in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 144 (6) Cr.PC, hereby imposes a ban on public assembly, gatherings, protests, processions, and demonstrations in South Zone Karachi Division for a period of 30 days with immediate effect," stated the provincial government's notification issued late Friday.

Long queues of vehicles were formed on Shahrae Faisal as police blocked the main artery from three spots — Baloch Colony, Nursery, and FTC — in a bid to stop protesters from gathering outside the Sindh Assembly.

The clashes, as workers were reaching the assembly, also took place between the law enforcers and the activists of the political parties as police fired tear gas on demonstrators in a bid to disperse them.

Police baton-charged and detained at least 30 protesters from near the Arts Council for staging a demonstration and raising slogans in the Red Zone area amid the imposition of Section-144.

The law enforcers also fired tear gas and clashed with protesters after they attempted to move toward the Sindh Assembly near the Baloch Colony area.

Moreover, the protest was also staged on the city’s main Toll Plaza which led to the suspension of traffic on Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway.

The flight schedule was also affected as passengers were facing difficulty in reaching the airport due to ongoing protests at Shahrae Faisal.

In a statement, DIG South Asad Raza said the heavy contingent of police was deployed on Shahrae Faisal and both tracks near the Nursery, Metropole, and FTC have been closed.

“A heavy contingent of police is also deployed around the Sindh Assembly,” the DIG South added.

Moreover, the road coming from Burns Road towards Sindh Assembly had also been blocked by placing containers, the senior police official said adding that barriers were placed on the road leading from Press Club to Sindh Assembly.


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