KARACHI: To protest the arrests of party workers and candidates ahead of the local bodies polls and alleged extra-judicial killings of its workers by the Sindh Rangers, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) supporters on Thursday staged a rally from Liaquatabad No 10, following the party’s late night call to march up to the paramilitary force’s headquarters.
The rally, however, turned into a sit-in when the protesters were stopped from marching beyond the Numaish Chowrangi, as the road leading up to the Rangers headquarters was blocked with barricades and huge contingents of police officers were also deployed.
Led by senior MQM leaders, the protesters were ordered to remain calm and not confront the police officers, however, minor scuffles did break out when the former attempted to cross the blockades.
Addressing the rally, senior party leader Dr Farooq Sattar, while demanding the immediate release of arrested party workers, said the entire party was willing to turn themselves in voluntarily after the December 5 polls, if all the paramilitary force wanted was to apprehend its workers.
“Today’s rally has proved to be a victory for the party even before the commencement of the third phase of the LB elections,” he said.
Asserting that the MQM was being subjected to ‘state terrorism’ for the past two years, Sattar claimed that around 4,000 workers had been detained in 5,000 raids conducted at its offices so far.
On not being allowed to march up to the Rangers headquarters, he said the act was a clear violation of the party’s constitutional and legal rights.
Former MNA Haider Abbas Rizvi also addressed the rally and said that anybody who thought the MQM would boycott the elections was “living in a fool’s paradise”.
“Karachi has been and will continue to be with the MQM in its mission for peace and development,” stated Rizvi.
MQM Senior Deputy Convener Amir Khan said that despite not being allowed to proceed to the Rangers headquarters, the party had managed to convey the message it intended to.
Speaking to media, Wasey Jalil, member of the party’s London Coordination Committee, said the point was not to create a law and order situation but only to convey the party’s stance to the authorities concerned. That, he said, the party had “managed to accomplish peacefully”.
The party claimed that 22 of its workers – arrested over the past two days – were preparing for the party’s election campaigns when they were arrested by law enforcement agencies. The situation, however, got tense when around 15 members of the party’s Korangi sector office were taken into custody following a raid, on Wednesday.
In a statement issued following an emergency meeting of the party’s London and Karachi Coordination Committees, the raids and arrests were termed a ‘conspiracy’ to get the MQM to boycott the LB polls.
However, the senior leadership adhering to the party chief’s orders to participate in the polls come what may, denounced any talk of the party backing off from the polls.
The rally was also addressed by Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Syed Amin-ul-Haq, Waseem Akhter and Faisal Sabzwari. The sit-in was called off later in the evening.
SHC notices issues to DG Rangers, others
The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued notices to DG Rangers, IG Sindh and others on a petition against detention of MQM’s party workers by the law enforcement agencies from its election office in Korangi.
Petitioner Ayesha Waseem submitted in the petition that her spouse Waseem Shama, along with eight other supporters and activists, was picked up by law enforcement agencies personnel from Korangi, on November 25. She submitted that her spouse had nothing to do with any criminal activity and was only sitting at the MQM’s election office set up for local bodies’ elections.
The other workers arrested were identified as Asghar Khan, Rafiq Sheikh, Ibrahim, Asif Akhtar, Nadeem Akhtar, Sher Bahadur, Mohammad Faisal and Bobby.
The court was requested to direct the police and Rangers to release the detainees and provide details of cases if any pending against them.
SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar after preliminary hearing of the petition issued notices to DG Rangers, IG Sindh and others and sought their comments on December 3.
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