Karachi police break up PTI protest rally with batons, tear gas

Published November 5, 2022
(Clockwise) PTI marchers are stopped by riot police near Regent Plaza on Share Faisal; a woman is held back by law enforcers; journalists take pictures as a policeman fires tear gas at protesters; workers and supporters raise hands and chant slogans; people run for cover as smoke billows from a shell.—Shakil Adil / White Star / PPI / AFP
(Clockwise) PTI marchers are stopped by riot police near Regent Plaza on Share Faisal; a woman is held back by law enforcers; journalists take pictures as a policeman fires tear gas at protesters; workers and supporters raise hands and chant slogans; people run for cover as smoke billows from a shell.—Shakil Adil / White Star / PPI / AFP

KARACHI: Police resorted to tear gas shelling and baton charge on Friday when Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf workers, including women, marched on the so-called ‘red zone’ during their protest on the second consecutive day against the ‘assassination attempt’ on former prime minister Imran Khan.

The police rounded up a number of PTI workers, including women, thwarting the party’s attempt to converge outside the Karachi Press Club.

Later the police claimed that the women workers were released shortly after detention though around a dozen male workers were still in custody.

It all started in the second half of the day when PTI Karachi president Bilal Ghaffar in a video message urged party workers, supporters and all Karachiites to join a protest on main Sharea Faisal near the Nursery bus stop.

Opposition party slams PPP govt for ‘using brutal force in political vendetta’

Before starting the protest, the workers gathered at the party office called Insaf House, where the leaders made brief speeches and shared a plan of the protest and vowed to stay peaceful.

Minutes after gathering on Sharea Faisal, which suspended traffic on one track of the main road, an announcement was made by the party leaders to march on the Karachi Press Club.

Heavy deployment of police force moved in an attempt to stop the workers, but couldn’t find any success.

After marching almost a kilometre, senior police officials held talks with the PTI leaders but the talks failed. The situation turned ugly near Regent Plaza when the police fired tear gas at the protesters and drew their batons to push and disperse them.

The police detained several protesters, including women workers of the party, and put them in police mobiles. In the process, one of the shells hit PTI MPA Raja Azhar on the foot leaving him badly injured.

The authorities justified the police action and blamed the PTI leaders for defying the law despite repeated appeals.

“There’s a defined rule for the Red Zone area where the PTI workers were taking out a rally,” said SSP South Asad Raza.

“The party leaders were conveyed and appealed repeatedly to stop and return peacefully because we couldn’t allow the people to block the key road unannounced and march on Red Zone. The defiance finally attracted the police action.”

The PTI leaders accused the Pakistan Peoples Party of using brutal police force in ‘political vendetta’.

They said the PPP government did not even care about women activists in the protest rally.

“It’s a sheer brutality,” said PTI Karachi president and MPA Bilal Ghaffar.“The PPP which claims to be a champion of democracy didn’t every think about women workers.”

He continued: “The Sindh police have become a party wing of the government. But this will not stop us. The protest campaign will continue unaffected and we will soon announce our next phase of protest. Despite such brutality, we are peaceful and wouldn’t let this conspiracy succeed which is hatched to provoke our workers.”

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2022

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