HYDERABAD: The Tando Allahyar police on Saturday applied baton charge to disperse women protesters who agitated against the arrest of their family members following a Friday night arson attack on a ‘15 police helpline’ centre in the city.
The police action invited a strong reaction from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leadership. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah also took notice of the use of force by police against the women and asked the Hyderabad DIG, Pir Mohammad Shah, for an inquiry.
Tando Allahyar police have registered three cases against Asif Khanzada — presumably brother and complainant of Bholu Khanzada murder case — and many others at the A-Section police station of Tando Allahyar. An unspecified number of suspects were picked up.
On Friday night, an arson attack on the police centre occurred after the funeral of MQM-P activist, Khalilur Rehman alias Bholu Khanzada, who was gunned down at the gate of sessions court earlier in the day.
The centre is located near the main bus stop, Liaquat gate. Around 10 motorcycles and a private car present inside were torched. The car (BRA-904) belonged to a policeman, Altaf Rind.
Demonstrators were agitating against crackdown on MQM-P activists after arson attack on police facility
The police claimed that intruders took away the motorbikes (case properties) and official instruments including charging devices of walkie-talkie sets.
A total of 60 suspects were nominated in the FIR and most of them were common in the three FIRs. About 25-30 suspects remained unidentified in one case. The number of unidentified suspects was not mentioned in the other case.
The arson attack prompted police to conduct raids on the houses of suspects. Pre-dawn raids continued till Saturday afternoon with police trying to break open doors of some houses. Raids were conducted in Unnar Para, Khanzada Colony, Islamia Mohallah and Hyderabad road.
Amid the crackdown, family members of the suspects blocked Hyderabad road near Islamia Mohallah.
They raised slogans against police highhandedness. In order to disperse the women protesters, the police started beating up them with sticks videos of which went viral and reached government functionaries.
“In fact male members were taking shelter behind women which is a common trend in rural areas in such cases,” said a policeman pictured in such videos. He said that police tried to disperse them. “Some looted gadgets were recovered from suspects’ families,” he claimed.
Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani said that the CM had taken notice of police action against women in Tando Allahyar. He quoted the CM as saying that such attitude could not be tolerated. He regretted that the incident was being politically exploited.
DIG Shah rushed to Tando Allahyar to bring the situation under control and met PPP leader and ex-MNA Abdul Sattar Bachani, MQM-P MNA Sabir Kaimkhani, MPA Nasir Qureshi, Tando Allahyar SSP Rukhsar Khuhawar. Mr Bachani said after the meeting that innocent persons would be released but miscreants would be dealt with according to law.
MQM-P lawmakers met heirs of deceased. MNA Salahuddin told journalists that Murad Ali Shah should act as the CM of “Sindh” and not “Sindhis” alone to ensure justice.
MQM-P coordination committee convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, speaking at a press conference in Karachi, condemned police for using force against women and demanded the arrest of “terrorists”. He also demanded an end to the police operation.
Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2022