Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Chairman Mustafa Kamal and other party leaders was released from detention in the wee hours of Monday, police said. The leaders were detained along with several party workers for trying to enter Karachi's red zone.
City Senior Superintendent of Police, Adeel Hussain Chandio confirmed that the party leaders were released from detention after successful negotiations with the provincial government.
Talking to the media after his release the PSP chairman condemned the use of force to disperse his party workers and said that the provincial government should be ashamed for arresting citizens asking for water.
On Sunday, a heavy contingent of police resorted to baton charge and shelling to disperse hundreds PSP activists as they tried to march towards the Chief Minister House after the negotiations between PSP and the ruling PPP party ended without the parties reaching any consensus.
The PSP was insistent to march towards the red zone in Karachi but the Sindh government was reluctant to let them do so.
Hundreds of PSP activists had gathered at Shahrah-e-Faisal near FTC bridge after the provincial government imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in Karachi's Red Zone on Sunday ahead of an announced march of the PSP to the Chief Minister House.
The PSP delegation which held talks with the ruling PPP leaders was led by Raza Haroon.
The leaders of the protesting PSP kept announcing that they will march towards the Red Zone, however, law enforcement personnel erected barricades on all roads leading to the chief minister and governor houses.
Nisar condemns use of force against citizens
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar reacted to the development and said that the Constitution ensures the provision of holding all types of political gatherings, DawnNews reported.
He condemned the use of power against protesters and said that the provincial government was showing ignorance to the issues of Karachi and resorted to torture against those demanding their rights. "Use of force against peaceful political gathering is quite illogical," he said.
PPP acted when govt’s writ was challenged, says Shehla Raza
PPP leader Shehla Raza, while talking to DawnNews, defended the provincial government's move saying PSP workers were repeatedly asked “to refrain from entering the Red Zone as it was an illegal activity.”
She, however, said PPP believes in democratic rights of the people and works accordingly. She further said that
“The protesters were initially approached to hold a dialogue regarding their demands, but when they challenged the writ of the government the due action was taken against them,” she maintained.
While responding to the statement made by the interior minister, Shehla Raza mentioned that the government only used water cannon unlike the actions of the incumbent PML-N government in Punjab.
She bluntly compared the recent development with the Model Town tragedy, where police had resorted to live firing, which had resulted in the death of more than a dozen civilians.
'PSP leaders booked over violation of Section 144'
Police have detained at least 16 leaders and workers of PSP, said Karachi-South DIG Azad Khan.
The DIG told DawnNews that the arrested leaders include Mustafa Kamal, Dr Sagheer Ahmed, Raza Haroon, Iftikhar Alam, Hafeez. “They would be booked on violation of Section 144.”
He claimed that the protesters were given a No Objection Certificate to carry out the rally from Karsaz to FTC flyover, and they had agreed to it.
“However, after reaching the FTC Bridge, the protesters were bent upon entering the Red Zone. This prompted the police to resort to baton charge, shelling and use water canon to disperse them,” he explained.
The senior official also said that the representatives of the provincial government and police officials held negotiations with the PSP leaders but to no avail.
The law, which prohibits the assembly of more than four people in an area, was put in place hours before the PSP had to start its march towards CM House.
A large number of anti-riot police personnel had already been deployed at the road and almost all roads leading to the city's red zone had been sealed.
PSP chairman Mustafa Kamal had said on Saturday that he expected “one million” people to march towards the “palace of the Sindh chief minister” for their rights.
The rally was expected to move from the FTC building on Shahrah-e-Faisal. The rallying workers would register their protest against the ‘poor governance’ of the PPP government in Sindh, it had been announced.
Kamal had previously criticised the government for failing to pay any heed to his party’s 18-day sit-in outside the Karachi Press Club. “A government delegation contacted us twice but instead of resolving our issues they tried to befool people,” he had said at a press conference on Saturday.
At the time, the PSP chairman had said that the city’s Red Zone — where the Governor House, CM House, Sindh Assembly and other important government installations are located — was not a sacrosanct place where people could not lodge their protest.