MQM-P protestor died of heart attack, not police violence: Saeed Ghani

Published January 27, 2022
Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani addresses a press conference in Karachi on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani addresses a press conference in Karachi on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani on Thursday contested Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan's (MQM-P) claim that its party worker's death in Karachi a day earlier was due to police violence, saying that the actual cause of death "seems to be a heart attack".

Several MQM-P workers, including women, were injured when police fired tear gas and resorted to baton-charge on their sit-in outside Chief Minister House against the recently passed controversial local government law on Wednesday evening.

Three persons, including MQM-P MPA Sadaqat Husain and a policeman, were brought to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for treatment. The MQM-P had said that Aslam died during treatment at the hospital — a claim Ghani appeared to reject in a press conference today.

"From the information apparently in front of us and the documents with us, it seems he (Aslam) died due to a heart attack and not violence. He was taken to Karachi Institute of Heart Disease and then he was brought here to National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases," the provincial information minister said recalling yesterday's events.

"We got it investigated [and] no person came in an injured state in Jinnah hospital or any other big government hospital ... no patient by the name of Aslam sahab came to Jinnah hospital and no death occurred."

Ghani said further investigation found that Aslam had arrived at KIHD at 8:30pm, where he was treated and subsequently referred to NICVD. Aslam was brought to NICVD at 10:30pm, by which time he had already passed away, the minister added.

Ghani said that had police violence been the cause of the worker's death, he would have been rushed to the myriad of hospitals nearby and not KIHD, which he said was 15 to 16km away from the site of sit-in.

"We are sad that a person died due to any reason — be it illness or any reason — but there is no evidence according to the information that we have till now that he died due to violence," the PPP official said.

Ghani said that pinning the blame of the death on the police was a "very serious allegation" and requested the deceased's family to allow a post-mortem investigation to bring the facts to light.

"If he really lost his life due to violence in yesterday's incident then we can take action against those responsible," he offered.

It is pertinent to mention here that MQM-P Senator Faisal Subzwari had on Wednesday night said that Aslam was injured by police shelling and baton charge, adding that he passed away at JPMC.

Responding to him, Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab said he was saddened to hear of the loss but no one by the deceased's name was brought to JPMC.

Subzwari hit back at the administrator and shared hospital receipts and a report. He acknowledged that the hospital in question was NICVD and not JPMC but reiterated that the worker was indeed "killed".

'These things shouldn't have happened'

Ghani acknowledged that yesterday's events "shouldn't have happened", adding that the city administration did not want to take any action but was forced to do so due to Pakistan Super League teams staying at a hotel nearby and the prevailing security situation.

"Despite not wanting to, the administration took this action and tried that no loss was incurred and the people were dispersed."

Ghani laid into the MQM-P's leadership and claimed that the party's MPA Sadaqat Husain, who was injured in the protest, was involved in committing violence against on-duty police officers.

"This perception is wrong that an MPA was beaten and dragged."

He also rubbished reports of a minor being killed and said that contrary to reports of "many workers and women" being arrested, around six to eight people were taken in police custody but were later released on the chief minister's instructions.

Ghani said the statements from the MQM-P leaders were attempting to instigate ethnic violence and called upon them to discuss their reservations on the local government law as well as the issue of the death of their activist in Tando Allahyar.

He also criticised the response from federal ministers over the incident, claiming the steps taken by the administration were to "protect Pakistan's name and better Pakistan's image in the world" so the PSL could continue.

Shortly after Ghani's presser, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he had taken note of the violence used by the Sindh police against MQM-P's "peaceful protest" and has called for a report about the matter.

"Will take necessary action against those responsible after receiving these reports," he tweeted.

CM Shah calls Aminul Haque

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah called MQM-P leader and Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque today to express his sadness over Wednesday's events.

"Such incidents should not happen under any circumstances," he said and the two agreed that political differences should be resolved through talks.

They also agreed to not give the incident an ethnic colour and condemned statements uttered along those lines. The two also consulted on carrying out a post-mortem investigation if anyone was killed in the violence and agreed to not create such a situation in the future.

CM Shah assured that he would get an inquiry carried out and action would be taken against those found responsible. He also offered to discuss the local government law.

Haque expressed confidence in the steps taken by the government on the Tando Allahyar incident with the chief minister.

The chief minister also called MPA Husain and inquired about his health.

FM Qureshi condemns incident

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in a phone call today with Haque and MQM-P MNAs Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Kishwar Zehra, strongly condemned Wednesday's events.

He said dispersing the peaceful protest through the use of force was a "denial of democratic rights". FM Qureshi also condoled Aslam's death and injury received by another MQM-P worker.

The foreign minister criticised the alleged thrashings meted out to women and MPA Husain. He added that the events had exposed the "real face" of those who gave lectures every day on democracy.

He said Sindh's local government law had been rejected by all parties and reduced to a "joke" among the people. Qureshi called for an immediate change in the local government law.


Additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui.

Opinion

Editorial

Updated 28 May, 2022

POL price shock

The state must look into exactly how much of an impact POL hikes have had on the prices of everyday items.
28 May, 2022

Changed laws

THERE will be much noise made over bills passed in the last two days by parliament to amend election and National...
28 May, 2022

Causing damage

FORMER prime minister Imran Khan’s remarks that he called off his protest, not because he had reached a deal but...
27 May, 2022

After the march

FORMER prime minister Imran Khan either ‘ran away’ from Islamabad or made a temporary, strategic retreat. It...
A tough decision
Updated 27 May, 2022

A tough decision

Decision to raise fuel prices will remove a major hitch of concluding a staff-level agreement with IMF.
27 May, 2022

Xinjiang files

QUESTIONS about the status of the Muslim Uighur people in China’s Xinjiang autonomous region often arise, with...