The Karachi commissioner has imposed Section 144 in the surroundings of Nasla Tower to avoid "any law and order situation", it emerged on Sunday.
The order to prohibit gatherings of more than four people in the surroundings of the tower comes after a protest against the building's demolition near the site on Friday turned violent, with police and Rangers baton-charging and firing tear gas on residents and builders.
The Supreme Court has directed authorities to raze the tower — a 15-storey residential building located at the intersection of Sharea Faisal and Shahrah-i-Quaideen —for encroaching on land meant for a service road.
A notification issued by Karachi Commissioner Iqbal Memon, dated November 27, stated that the demolition of Nasla Tower "is going on in full swing [so] as to complete the task as soon as possible" in compliance with the Supreme Court's orders.
It stated that on Friday, "there was an apprehension that law and order situation may occur and some people would cross the barrier and expose themselves to danger."
According to the notice, seen by Dawn.com, there were "sufficient grounds to proceed" and consider the request of the East deputy commissioner to prohibit gatherings near the demolition site.
"I ... do hereby impose ban on crossing the caution barriers and gathering of more than four people at the surroundings of and inside Nasla Tower except relevant administration staff, engineers, labour, and the contractor" under Section 144 (power to issue order absolute at once in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger) of the Code of Criminal Procedure "to avoid any law and order situation till completion of [the] demolition work".
The order authorised the deputy commissioner and Ferozabad assistant commissioner to take action against the violators in coordination with the concerned SSP and get them booked under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
On Friday evening, police and Rangers had resorted to tear gas shelling and baton-charge to disperse protesting residents and builders trying to stop the razing of Nasla Tower, hours after the Supreme Court directed the Karachi commissioner to expedite the demolition process and complete it within a week.
Officials and witnesses said that protesters belonging to the Association of Builders and Developers (Abad) arrived at the site and tried to block Sharea Faisal near the Nursery roundabout, following which law enforcers took action against them.
A police spokesperson said that no one was injured as officials cleared the road of protesters. But Abad Chairman Mohsin Sheikhani decried the use of force against the protesters and claimed that at least 20 to 25 people were injured in the incident.