KARACHI: Police on Wednesday resorted to a fierce aerial firing and wild tear-gas shelling to thwart the attempts of PTI workers for a sit-in protest at Numaish Chowrangi in the metropolis, as several protestors were arrested and injured.
Roads connecting the city to Numaish Chowrangi were sealed off, leaving the residents of the locality completely hostage at their homes, besides disturbing the vehicular traffic from all areas.
The PTI’s Karachi chapter had given a call for a sit-in at Numaish Chowrangi to show political power as the party’s central leadership began its “Azadi March” towards Islamabad from Peshawar, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for pressuring the federal government into calling fresh polls in the country.
The PPP’s Sindh government, which is also a mainstay coalition partner of the incumbent federal government, deployed a mammoth contingent of police at the Chowrangi to fail the PTI sit-in protest aiming to pile pressure for fresh election in the country.
Section 144 was placed to ban protests and other sorts of gatherings in the province with pillion ride on motorbikes but the PTI workers defied it and successfully reached Numaish Chowrangi after a daylong of clashes.
Protesting women said that they had to walk a mile afoot to reach Nomaish Chowrangi for the sit-in as Sindh police blocked roads far from the protest point.
PTI’s provincial legislator, Khurram Sher Zaman Khan said that the sit-in at the Numaish Chowrangi will continue until Imran Khan, Chairman PTI, calls it off.
Section 144 was widely seen as a move to perturb the motorcycle commuters as the city badly lacks public transport network.
During the day, clashes left several PTI workers injured as police baton-charged the protestors indiscriminately, beating them up severely, which caused several of them to suffer nose and head bleeding, according eyewitnesses.
Five of the injured were transported to Jinnah Hospital from medical treatment.
The wild teargas shelling also left a toxic unbearable smell in the atmosphere that engulfed the localities around the violent clashes.
Residents complained about chest and eye burning problems after teargas shell landed around their homes.
Sindh police blocked roads with vehicles like water rankers and spread strings barbwire to stop forcefully the PTI’s marchers from sit-in.
Commuters suffered the most from the Sindh government’s move of sealing off the roads, as alternative routes turned congested with a sudden influx of vehicles.
“Police fired straight at our workers,” former Sindh Governor, Imran Ismail said and alleged the police firing has injured the PTI’s protesting workers.
He criticised Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the PPP Chairman, for the police firing at the PTI workers. “Is this human rights in your province,” he asked, saying that police “invaded” Sindh like Kashmir and Palestine.
Imran Ismail also condemned the arrests of PTI workers by police at Numaish Chowrangi.
On the other hand, thousands of PTI workers gathered on Shahra-e-Quaideen with party flags in hands, chanting anti-government slogans.
Several women lawyers also became part of the rally. They marched towards Numaish Chowrangi, vowing to clear the roads for the sit-in.
The marchers also included women, aged and young people demanding for fresh polls. “We are peaceful,” Abbas Jeffery, PTI’s MPA, said at the Allahwali Chowrangi while parading to the destination.
Arsalan Taj also condemned the police heavy-handed approach towards the PTI’s activists, saying that Sindh government has arrested several protestors. “We are on way to Numaish Chowrangi and will remove hurdles when reach there,” he said
Opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly, Aleem Adil Shaikh censured the Sindh government for arresting PTI workers in different cities of the province
“The Sindh police will be made accountable for being a ‘slave’ of Zardari mafia,” he said, adding that the police department is insecure from “Zardari mafia”. He appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of the situation.
The police also said that violent clashes left its personnel injured and its prisoners van burnt. It said that the protestors hurled stones at the riot police during the violence.
Journalists also complained for being assaulted at the PTI’s protest. The media organizations condemned the unpleasant incident and asked the Sindh government to provide security to the reporters and cameramen covering the event.
According to the Sindh police, several checkpoints were set up in areas including Sohrab Goth, Water Pump, Saddar, Korangi, Malir 15, Lyari, Qayoomabad, Defence, Clifton, Site Area, Ittehad Town, Buffer Zone, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, 5-Star, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, North Karachi, Nagan Chowrangi and Power House Chowrangi.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022