KARACHI: Following successful negotiations with authorities on Monday, Lyari residents called off a sit-in demonstration outside the Rangers headquarters in Karachi in protest against a targeted operation by the Rangers in the troubled old city area.
Scores of demonstrators from Karachi’s Lyari town had breached barricades and entered the city’s 'red zone', protesting what they called the “extra-judicial killings of area residents” by paramilitary soldiers, including the death of popular local Lyari athlete Saqib ‘Boxer’.
Rangers and police claim ‘Boxer’ was a suspected gangster killed in a joint targeted operation on June 28 in Nayabad area in Lyari, an old city neighbourhood rife with violence and turf-wars between competing mafia groups and extortionists.
Participants of the rally, which was also attended by the ruling Pakistan People’s Party’s lawmakers from Lyari, claimed that innocent civilians were being picked up and killed by forces without the due process of the law.
Protestors demanded an end to the targeted operation in Lyari and the ouster of the Rangers force from Karachi.
Anticipating the protest rally, authorities had cordoned off sensitive areas of the city on Monday, including the 'red zone' which houses key establishments, including the Governor’s House, the Chief Minister’s House and the Rangers headquarters near I I Chundrigar Road.
However, several protesters managed to breach the barricades at Shaheen Complex, and staged a sit-in protest outside the Rangers headquarters.
Speaking to media during the sit-in, Pakistan People’s Party lawmaker Abdul Qadir Patel blamed the paramilitary force for the killing of local Lyari athlete Saqib Baloch alias ‘Boxer’.
“We are not against operation by authorities against suspected criminals if it follows the due process of the law. However, we demand all suspected criminals be treated in the same manner. Criminals committing hundreds of murders are taken to the police station, while our youth are gunned down only the basis of suspicion,” said Patel.
Patel said that if a person is suspected of a crime, they should be tried in court according to the law.
Protestors eventually called off the sit-in demonstration after successful negotiations between authorities and rally organisers.