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DADU: Fourteen activists and supporters of independent candidate Sardar Mir Taimoor Khan Panhwar were booked after a clash between participants of his rally and a caravan of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Rafiq Ahmed Jamali in Malooja Panhwar village near Khudabad town of Dadu taluka on Sunday.

Several vehicles were damaged during the violence which began with an exchange of hot words and soon the two sides started attacking each other with bricks and other objects.

Some of the embattled activists also resorted to firing but there were no reports of anyone having sustained bullet wounds. Five persons, however, suffered injuries during a scuffle and the ensuing stone-throwing.

The trouble started when the PPP caravan led by its NA-235 candidate Rafiq Ahmed Ahmed Jamali, who is also the party’s district president, arrived in the village where a rally for his rival candidate, Sardar Panhwar, was under way. Sardar Panhwar was away in Chandan Mori to address a similar rally at that time.

The area police intervened to bring the situation under control.

It was not known what made the two sides to engage in a heated argument but both candidates accused each other of being responsible for the clash.

Mr Jamali claimed that he escaped unhurt during the attack on the caravan though several vehicles carrying the participants were damaged by stone-throwing rivals.

He alleged that Sardar Panhwar’s supporters scuffled with the participants of the caravan in their bid to block its way into the village.

Sardar Panhwar’s close aide, Mir Hassan Panhwar, who is the information secretary of the Sindh Panhwar Ittehad, alleged that Jamali and his associates were harassing his community members for not supporting PPP. He claimed that PPP activists attacked Panhwars in the village which triggered the violence.

He said vehicles belonging to members of his community were also damaged in the clash. Mr Jamali, speaking at a press conference at his residence in Dadu town, described the episode as “a pre-planned attack” on his caravan. He alleged that a man was seen asking Panhwars to attack the caravan.

Mr Jamali told reporters that former MPA Kulsoom Chandio and senior PPP leader Shabbir Ahmed Abro accompanied him when he proceeded to the village in a caravan of vehicles.

Meanwhile, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari condemned the alleged attack in a statement issued here on Sunday evening.

He said: “It seems that the caretaker government of Sindh is dominated by a party”.

He urged the chief election commissioner to take notice of the “attack on the PPP candidate, Rafiq Ahmed Jamali, and his caravan”.

An FIR against 14 people was registered at the Khudabad police station on a directive of Dadu SSP Tanvir Ahmed Tunio, who said it was lodged by a resident of the village, Khamiso Panhwar.

Dadu Deputy Commissioner Tariq Manzoor Chandio has issued notices to both Rafiq Jamali and Sardar Panhwar over alleged violation of the ECP code of conduct by resorting to holding their respective rallis without obtaining permission and using firearms during the violent incident.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2018