KARACHI: Violence broke out in many areas of the city on Monday evening when supporters and workers of the banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and police clashed with each other.
While no untoward incident was reported from any place in the province during the day during a strike observed on the appeal of religious scholars against Lahore violence and to show solidarity with the TLP, scores of people took to streets after sunset in a bid to resume their protest.
The most violent protest was reported from New Karachi near Saba Cinema.
Clashes at multiple locations break out following a peaceful strike in many cities and towns of Sindh
New Karachi Industrial Area SHO Yunus Khattak said that several TLP workers blocked the road to suspend vehicular traffic. He said police initially engaged them in talks to end the protest. However, they allegedly attacked policemen with stones and guns, he added.
He said protesters fired shots at the police due to which a policeman, identified as Alam, was injured and shifted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.
The area SHO said weapons had been withdrawn from the police force as per a policy decision. Therefore, the police fired tear-gas shells and baton-charged the protesters to disperse them.
He said five protesters were injured during the police action and 12 others were arrested.
The police have registered a case against them under anti-terrorism law and on other charges.
Another violent protest was reported from Malir, where protesters tried to block the National Highway and the police used force to get the highway cleared.
Similar protests were reported from Landhi, Korangi 2 1/2 and Jamshed Quarters area. Traffic remained suspended in these areas due to the protests.
Earlier in the day, a shutter-down strike was observed in Karachi, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas, but the call drew mixed response in the rest of Sindh.
The strike remained peaceful throughout the day with businesses and major markets remained closed and traffic also remained thin.
While TLP activists staged protests at a few places, no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the province.
However, ports, banks, stock exchange and foreign exchange companies remained functional.
In Karachi, major commercial centres in Saddar, old city areas, Jodia Bazaar, Tariq Road, Bahadurabad, Clifton, Zamzama, etc, remained closed.
“No traditional way was adopted to force the traders and shopping centres to close. Shopkeepers voluntarily shut their businesses as they have an ‘emotional attachment’ with the issue,” said Atiq Mir, the head of All Karachi Tajir Ittehad (AKTI).
However, he said businesses could not afford strikes during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and urged all stakeholders to sit together and resolve the issue as the situation was not good for economy and the country’s peace.
In different neighbourhoods, grocery shops, general stores and banks were open.
A spokesperson for the traffic police said traffic was less than daily routine.
A police official said that late Sunday night workers and supporters of religious parties gathered near Qadhafi Chowk in Orangi Town and tried to block roads but police and Rangers dispersed them.
In Hyderabad, a complete shutter-down was observed in the city as well as Latifabad and Qasimabad talukas. No unpleasant incident was reported from anywhere in the district amid heavy deployment of police at sensitive points.
A large number of people gathered at Hyder Chowk and outside local press club. They tried to hold a sit-in at Kohinoor Chowk but dispersed peacefully when police arrived there.
Filling stations also remained shut in some areas.
Also in Mirpurkhas, businessmen, traders and shopkeepers observed a complete strike in the district. Public and private vehicles mostly remained off the road. No untoward incident took place anywhere in the district due to stringent security arrangements.
Office-bearers of the local chapter of the Ulema Action Committee led a big demonstration held outside the local press club, where Pir Ayub Jan Sarhandi and Mufti Shareef Saeedi spoke to them.
Mixed response in interior Sindh
The strike call remained largely ineffective in Jacobabad district as normal business activities were witnessed amid usual flow of vehicular traffic.
Police picked up five protesters when a small group of religious activists tried to hold a demonstration at DC Chowk.
A shutter-down strike was observed in Johi town but trade and business activities in towns of the district remained largely unaffected.
TLP activists took out a protest rally in Dadu city which ended peacefully.
Due to unavailability of transport means in most areas of Dadu and Jamshoro districts, attendance in educational institutions, including universities, remained very thin.
In Badin, a partial strike was observed in some small towns of Badin district while Badin city and bigger towns like Talhar and Pangrio remained unaffected by the strike call.
Lawyers boycott court proceedings
The legal fraternity on Monday observed a strike at the subordinate courts in the city to express solidarity with the TLP.
The lawyers did not turn up to plead their cases at the City Courts, Malir District Courts and special courts and tribunals.
A large number of cases fixed for the day had to be adjourned due to absence of the lawyers.
The litigants and undertrial prisoners faced difficulties due to the lawyers’ strike.
The Mirpurkhas District Bar Association boycotted court proceeding in response to the strike call.
Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2021