KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Monday remanded in police custody as many as 120 leaders and activists of the Sindh Action Committee (SAC) held for allegedly resorting to violence, ransacking and torching private properties in Bahria Town Karachi (BTK) during their protest against the mega housing scheme a day before.
Following Sunday’s violence, police arrested the suspects and booked them in cases pertaining to torching restaurants, shops, vehicles and looting money from ATMs.
On Monday, the investigating officer produced the suspects before the administrative judge of the ATCs to seek their physical remand in police custody for interrogation and investigation.
The IO submitted that the physical custody of the suspects was required to get their criminal record checked and arrest their alleged accomplices, who were still fleeing.
PPP, Muttahida, PTI leaders visit the housing project on Superhighway to express solidarity with residents
He sought 14-day physical remand of the suspects, but the judge remanded them in police custody for two days and directed the IO to produce them on the next date. The IO was further told to submit an investigation report on the next date as well.
The judge also directed the IO to ensure provision of medical treatment to some suspects, who were produced in injured condition.
According to the FIR, the BTK’s security manager stated that some nationalist groups including the Sindh United Party, Jeay Sindh Mahaz, Jeay Sindh and Awami Tehreek had on May 21 announced a protest against the BTK.
He stated that the nationalist leaders including Qadir Magsi, Jalal Mehmood Shah, Sanan Qureshi, Jan Mohammad Junejo along with 8,000 to 10,000 people gathered outside the BTK’s main gate [on Sunday], where they delivered speeches against the project and allegedly incited their workers to violence.
The complainant added that the protesters removed barricades, manhandled the security staff and put the main gate of the housing scheme on fire on Sunday. Later, he added, the leaders along with their activists entered the commercial area, ransacked two shops, three ATMs, looted the money and torched five restaurants in Tauheed Plaza.
The FIR added that the protesters also set fire to vehicles by throwing some chemical.
A case was registered under Sections 395 (punishment for dacoity), 397 (robbery or dacoity with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) read with Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at the Gadap City police station.
Also on Monday, representatives of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, opposition Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and senior politician Dr Farooq Sattar separately visited BTK on Superhighway to express solidarity with the residents who suffered financial losses and mental agony due to Sunday’s violence.
Sindh govt to hold ‘impartial’ probe
PPP leader and Education Minister Saeed Ghani along with his party MPAs from district Malir paid a visit to the scene of destruction and met the owners of the properties destroyed in the violence.
He said that the Sindh government would hold a fair and impartial investigation into the incident and all those involved would be taken to task immediately.
He said that the government would extend all possible help to the violence victims and the losses to their properties would be estimated.
Mr Ghani assured the residents that Sindh government was with them and it would take stern action against all those responsible without getting into anyone’s pressure.
MQM-P blames ‘Sindhudesh terrorists’
A delegation of the MQM-P headed by senior leader Amir Khan visited Bahria Town and assured the residents that the party would not leave them alone.
Later, talking to reporters, Mr Khan said that “terrorists belonging to Sindhudesh”, who he said enjoyed full backing of the PPP government, attacked the housing scheme, chanted anti-Pakistan slogans and took the law into their hands.
He said that despite raising anti-Pakistan slogans no treason case was registered against any of the groups involved in the violence in the name of a protest.
He demanded that the federal government use its constitutional powers and ensure protection to the life and property of the people of Sindh.
PTI demands action
PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman along with his party’s MPAs and local leaders visited BTK and condemned the police for failing to stop miscreants from damaging and ransacking properties.
He said that residents of BTK faced a huge financial loss and it was the responsibility of the Sindh government to pay compensation.
He demanded strict action against political parties whose activists chanted anti-Pakistan slogans during the protest demonstration.
Mr Sher Zaman said that the local PTI chapter had requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to play his role on the matters of Sindh as there was no hope from the provincial government.
Sattar calls for Sindhi-Mohajir unity
The head of his own faction of the MQM-P, the Organisation Restoration Committee (ORC), Dr Farooq Sattar also visited Bahria Town and met the affected traders and businessmen.
He said that the violence was an attempt to pit Sindhis and Mohajirs against each other but they would foil this conspiracy with their unity.
He said that it appeared that the government had given a free hand to “Sindhudesh elements” to do whatever they want with complete impunity.
Earlier, he told a press conference that he would hold a protest demonstration at the Quaid’s mausoleum on June 11.
Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2021