A skirmish between Karachi Police and members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) party, including lawmakers, women and children, left one dead and several more injured yesterday, after police baton-charged and fired tear gas upon the crowd of workers at Shahrah-r-Faisal.
MQM-P workers had gathered earlier in the day to protest recently passed amendments to the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 by the incumbent Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government.
The protest moved from the FTC Roundabout on Sharea Faisal to the Chief Minister’s house, which is a ‘high-security’ zone. The route, police said, violated the MQM-P’s original permit to remain near the Karachi Press Club, which led to the violent street clash between the two groups.
“They also blocked main Sharea Faisal at FTC for a considerable period of time causing a traffic jam. When they reached near Metropole hotel on Club Road, the MQM-P protestors allegedly attacked police with stones after officials tried to prevent them from holding a rally in the Red Zone,” South Zone Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Sharjeel Kharal told Dawn.
Later reports indicated that thousands of commuters were stuck in an hours-long gridlock, including ambulances and school busses, as roads remained blocked during the scuffle.
Several lawmakers were detained during the clash, including MQM-P MPA Sadaqat Hussain who sustained injuries as police dragged him into custody, video from the incident showed.
The party decried the police’s ‘fascist’ tactics and called on demanded the resignation of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah for violently disassembling what it termed a ‘peaceful protest.’
MQM-P Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui announced a ‘Black Day’ of mourning (youm e soug) in honor of the deceased party member, who succumbed to his injuries last night. He also called on PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari to take immediate action against the chief minister.
“Otherwise, Bilawal House is also located in the city,” he warned.