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Raid for Uzair’s arrest sparks protest

Updated July 28, 2013

KARACHI, July 27: A violent protest led by a woman provincial lawmaker belonging to the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party broke out in Lyari on Saturday after police made a botched attempt to arrest Uzair Jan Baloch, an absconder in the Arshad Pappu murder case, through an early morning raid on his house only to return empty-handed.

Officials insisted that ‘efforts’ were on to arrest Mr Baloch, chief of the self-styled Karachi City Alliance that is believed to be a reincarnation of the Peoples Amn Committee, but could not explain the failure in arrest of the suspect who had made public speeches and hosted an Iftar-dinner for journalists in Lyari a few days ago.

Though the authorities claimed that raids for Mr Baloch’s arrest would continue, many wonder over the exercise that only caused inconvenience to residents of the area, where life came to a standstill amid a protest that lasted for several hours.

The protesters, including women and children, emerged on the main road along Singo Lane where the police raided Mr Baloch’s home. Led by Pakistan People’s Party member of the Sindh Assembly Sanya Naz Baloch, the protesters kept the traffic and daily business suspended for a couple of hours by burning tyres and wooden stuff on the road.

“The police violated both ethics and rules,” she said. “They manhandled women and took innocent youngsters of the area along. It’s sheer brutality, which only creates hatred of the law-enforcement agencies among law-abiding people. We would protest again if the police make this move again.”

Earlier, dozens of South police personnel cordoned off Singo Lane and neighbouring streets and raided several area houses. The police raid, which lasted for more than an hour, ended with the detention of more than half a dozen youngsters. The police also claimed to have seized arms from them.

However, the situation remained unclear when most of the youngsters were released after initial investigation.

DIG-South Dr Amir Sheikh did not respond to multiple calls made to seek details of the police operation, which failed to arrest Mr Baloch and a future course of action in line with the Sindh High Court orders.

SHC Chief Justice Mushir Alam had on Thursday ordered the provincial police chief to submit a report why Uzair Jan Baloch, an absconder in the Arshad Pappu murder case, was not arrested by the police when he was accessible to media people publicly.

An anti-terrorism court started the process of declaring Mr Baloch a proclaimed offender earlier this week. The same day he hosted an Iftar-dinner for journalists in Lyari. The event was attended by over 500 media persons, belonging to both TV channels and newspapers.

However, city police chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo said Saturday’s raid was a first attempt of its kind to arrest Mr Baloch and raids would continue till the proclaimed offender was sent behind bars.

“The police are not scared, neither are under any pressure,” he told Dawn. “We raided but he was not there, which normally happens in these kinds of operations. But it should be clear to everyone that we have not finished our efforts, and we would raid again and again anywhere we receive reports of his presence.”