Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) workers protesting the arrest of Karachi chapter Emir Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, who was arrested earlier, blocked Karachi’s Sharea Faisal and other major thoroughfares causing hardship to commuters and skirmished with law enforcing authorities.
Rehman was released later in the evening and reached the party head office. He said that JI is an ideological party and it stands for non-violence.
"We wanted to hold a peaceful demonstration. Instead, it was turned into a violent one," the JI Karachi emir added.
"We were willing to cooperate with the authorities. We even offered to switch tracks on Sharea Faisal if the traffic load increased," said Rehman.
The local JI emir said it was for "the beloved KE" that people were arrested today.
The party has announced a protest on Saturday.
Major thoroughfare blocked
The protesters blocked both sides of Sharea Faisal and caused significant hardship to commuters using the route.
Law enforcement agencies retaliated by arresting dozens of workers and resorted to aerial firing and teargas shelling in an attempt to open the main artery of the metropolis.
The blockage of Sharea Faisal by JI workers caused massive traffic jams with thousands of commuters unable to divert to link roads as protests had spilled over to adjoining areas.
A link road to Sharea Faisal, Shahrah-i-Quaideen also witnessed a protest by JI workers. The road was blocked by the workers and a heavy police contingent was deployed to the area.
Commuters complained of being stuck for hours on Shahrah-i-Quaideen, one of the link roads to Sharea Faisal. Protesters on the link road also burned tires.
The protesters also blocked MA Jinnah road and caused commuters to wait for hours.
A round of negotiations held earlier in the evening ended without any agreement between JI and law enforcers.
JI Sindh Emir Dr Mairajul Huda Siddiqui claimed earlier in the evening that around 25 party workers were arrested along with Karachi Emir Naeemur Rehman from the party's head office.
"Police is arresting our workers from different areas but I do not have the exact number. They have also dismantled our camps," Siddiqui said.
"But we will keep fighting for the rights of Karachi."
"We will not give up our democratic right to protest," Rehman said earlier while addressing the media before his arrest took place.
"We have directed our workers to continue with the protests in their area," he further said.
Earlier in the day, a heavy contingent of police was deployed around the party's offices in Karachi to prevent anyone from entering or exiting the premises, DawnNews reported, citing a JI spokesman.
The party had announced a campaign against KE by staging protests across the city, denouncing the ‘high tariff’ and ‘exorbitant billing’ being collected by the KE from the people for the past five years.
Superintendent Police Gulshan Fahad Ahmed said an 'illegal gathering' of the JI camp on Sharea Faisal had been removed and three people arrested.
"All persons gathering at Sharea Faisal in an unlawful assembly of five or more people will be immediately arrested and First Information Reports registered," he added.
Earlier, the SP had said that all efforts were made to prevent the JI sit-in. "However, the organisers have not paid any heed to the request by the police department, so the police is left with no choice other than coercive action."
He claimed the police would attempt to stop the "illegal gathering" peacefully.