Thursday, January 27, 2022
KARACHI: One person lost his life, while several members of the MQM-P, including women, were left injured after Karachi police baton-charged and tear-gassed them during a protest at the city's Shahrah-e-Faisal, Geo News reported, citing party representatives.
Speaking to journalists in Karachi's Bahadurabad area after midnight, MQM-P's parliamentarian leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui confirmed that one of the party workers — identified as Aslam — succumbed to his injuries.
"We will register a first information report (FIR) under a section of terrorism against Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah for the murder of our worker," Siddiqui said. "This was not the first day of our protests [against the PPP-led provincial government] but just the beginning."
He confirmed that the funeral prayers of Aslam would be held in Karachi today, adding that several other members of the MQM — including women — are currently hospitalised as they sustained injuries after the police baton-charged and tear-gassed them.
The senior MQM-P leader said that while the party had earlier announced a "Black Day" in Karachi today, it will now observe a "day of mourning" (youm e soug) due to the death of the party worker.
Siddiqui further said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed have taken notice of the incident, while federal ministers are looking into the matter as well.
Meanwhile, Aslam's brother told Geo News that the body of the deceased has been transferred to the cold storage of the Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation.
MQM-P workers and leaders had gathered in large numbers during the afternoon hours of Wednesday to stage a protest against the controversial local government bill.
Later on, the protesters attempted to reach the Chief Minister's House for a sit-in. As a result, the flow of traffic was severely affected on the road considered to be the city's main artery.
The police, however, baton-charged the crowd and used teargas shells in an attempt to dissuade it from entering the red zone.
MQM-P representatives said several women and children participating in the protests sustained injuries, while the police arrested several MQM-P leaders and activists.
Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) Sadaqat Hussain was also injured because of the baton charge. Contingents of south police were deployed at the site of the protest to disperse the demonstrators.
According to the traffic police, the Shahrah-e-Faisal road started to become choked as protesters continued to advance forwards, therefore, they said they had "no choice but to use force and fire teargas shells."
The protesters, however, insisted that they were "staging their protest peacefully, but the police went ahead and used force to disperse them."
The police cleared the area and roads resuming the traffic for the public, while five people were arrested from the area near CM House.
MQM-P leaders and workers later left for the press club where the top leadership held a press conference in order to decide on an action plan.
Speaking to the media and workers outside the press club, Maqbool announced that the party will observe a "Black Day" on January 27.
“The way the police treated our women party workers is a question of our honour,” he said while asking "who is responsible for the injuries sustained by MPA Sadaqat Hussain?"
He warned the provincial government that if MQM-P does not get updates on party workers who have been taken into custody then the party will be “free to take any decision.”
Urging Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit Karachi as soon as possible, Maqbool said that the premier needs to choose between the people who want to break Pakistan or those who are "working for the survival of the country."
The MQM-P leader further demanded an inquiry against Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah, saying that he should resign or else the party will take strict actions against the provincial government.
“We don’t want to fight; however, we do know how to fight,” he reiterated.
Taking notice of the incident in Karachi, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood said he strongly condemns the “police brutality” in Karachi.
“So much for Bilawal’s lectures on democracy,” he said while berating the PPP-led Sindh government.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry highlighted that there was no need for such “hooliganism” at a time when PSL is just around the corner.
Sharing a video statement, Governor Sindh Imran Ismail condemned the “police brutality,” adding that local government should resolve the issue with mutual understanding and dialogue.
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said that the Constitution of Pakistan allows its citizens to protest, adding that “PPP's approach to suppressing dissent by force is shameful.”
Commenting on the action of the police to disperse the protesters and injure them, former mayor of Karachi Wasim Akhtar said that the "worst form of state force was used against the protesters," adding that several workers and leaders were wounded because of the baton charge.
Meanwhile, senior MQM-P leader Aminul Haq said that the party workers were protesting peacefully in front of the CM House.
“We are politicians and we are always ready for talks,” he said, adding that the Sindh government used baton charge and tear gas "without warning."
He further added that "protesting is their constitutional right, and the citizen of Sindh have been protesting against the local government law for the last many days."
“Power was used ruthlessly on the workers,” he said, adding that several workers have been arrested and have been shifted to various police stations.
Meanwhile, Sindh Minister for Information Saeed Ghani, while speaking to Geo News, said that MQM-P decided to change the location of the protest, as they had earlier announced the demonstration outside the press club but they started marching towards the CM House.
“We are not against protests, even Jamat-e-Islami has been protesting in front of the Sindh Assembly for almost a month now,” he said, adding that the MQM-P should have been careful as several foreign players are staying in hotels near the CM House because of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) which is scheduled to commence tomorrow.
Ghani further added that because of PSL, security is already on high alert the protestors were warned not to move towards the CM House; however, they defied all requests and the police had to take action.
Blaming the MQM-P, the minister said that if the party workers and leaders had protested outside the press club the situation would have been different.
Criticising the party, he further added that MQM-P, along with the PTI, wants to divert the public’s attention from the actual issues.