A protesting fruit vendor died due to alleged torture after an anti-encroachment drive at Karachi's Empress Market on Thursday reportedly turned violent.

According to SSP South Sarfraz Nawaz Shaikh, the anti-encroachment operation was carried out under the supervision of Assistant Commissioner Saddar Sara Javed, and the District Municipal Corporation (DMC) South team with support provided by the police.

As the pushcarts were removed and goods seized, the vendors resisted and started pelting stones, resulting in injuries to the AC Saddar and three policemen.

This prompted the policemen to call for reinforcements. The police personnel resorted to baton charge to disperse the protesters blocking the road at Empress Market.

During the baton charge, one protester identified as Maroof Haji became unconscious and died allegedly due to torture, the protesters said.

However, the SSP South said that there were no apparent torture marks on his body.

The officer expressed regret over the fact and said that the man had likely died a "natural death due to a heart attack or heat stroke”.

He said a post-mortem examination of the body would be conducted and legal action would be taken if it transpired that he, in fact, died due to torture.

The violence triggers traffic jams on major arteries in Saddar, causing immense inconveniences to the people.

Meanwhile, Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC) told Dawn that the hospital had received one person brought dead from Empress Market.

"Apparently, there were no torture marks. The body was shifted to the mortuary to ascertain the exact cause of death," she said.

Dr Jamali added that the AC Saddar Sara Javed, who was also brought to JPMC, had sustained minor injuries and was discharged after being given first-aid.

Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal took notice of the injury to AC Saddar and “the killing of one person due to alleged torture” and sought a detailed report from DIG South Azad Khan, the spokesperson for the ministry said.

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