KARACHI, March 10: Participants of some demonstrations organised by the Christian community in protest over the Badami Bagh incident turned violent on Sunday when they reportedly pelted moving vehicles with stones and tried to break open shops in the city’s electronics and Zainab markets.
Police lobbed teargas shells to disperse the protesting crowds and claimed to have arrested about a dozen suspects.
The police said participants of a Muttahida Qaumi Movement rally were returning from the Karachi Press Club after staging a demonstration, another rally arrived in Saddar and some of its participants tried to ransack vendors outside the Zainab Market.
They said the shopkeepers also reacted and formed a group to defend their businesses. Armed with sticks and batons, they confronted with the protesters, said DIG-South Shahid Hayat.
Several motorcycles and many cars parked on Abdullah Haroon Road near Zainab Market were badly damaged in the violence. Two ambulances were also damaged. The protesters also threw stones on the shops and passing vehicles.
The police lobbed teargas shells and managed to arrest several miscreants for resorting to violence, the DIG said.
MQM leader Wasay Jalil issued a statement that the MQM rally had already dispersed peacefully when the violence broke out in the Fawwara Chowk and Zainab Market area.
Earlier, participants of a protest rally coming from M.A. Jinnah Road and heading towards the Karachi Press Club also resorted to violence in the Electronic Market. The protesters attacked some vendors present at the pavement of the mobile market. However, the police resorted to baton charge on the protesters.
In the third incident of the protest, members of the Christian community blocked the main Sharea Faisal at the FTC intersection and setting fire to tyres on the thoroughfare.
The protesters also pelted passing vehicles with stones causing suspension of vehicular traffic on the main road.
Senior police officers reached the scene and negotiated with the protesters and managed to persuade them to vacate the main road after an hour-long traffic disruption.
Foolproof security ordered
Sindh police chief Ghulam Shabbir Shaikh on Sunday ordered an urgent and foolproof security plan for all churches, missionary schools and residential colonies of the Christian community in the province.
He issued directives in this regard to all police stations in the province in the wake of the Badami Bagh incident.
He also reiterated that security must be beefed up with immediate effect at all the identified sites. He said that absolute care must be taken so that no law and order situation was created by any individual or group around the churches, colonies, schools, fast food chains and hotels.
He said similar steps had to be taken for the protection and safety of the members of other minority communities and their places of worship.
The police chief said that a detailed report must be compiled about the places of worship, community centers and other relevant properties owned by minority communities in the province so as to ensure round-the-clock vigilance and protection.
Referring to the Saturday tragic incident in Lahore, he said that it was aimed at triggering mistrust among different religious communities.
He said that peace committees must be constituted at the district level and public confidence must be strengthened.