• SHO, six cops hurt as law enforcers pelted with stones at Teen Talwar
• DIG says rally was being staged in red zone without NOC
• PTI slams absence of level playing field
• Inquiry ordered into police action against mediapersons

KARACHI: Clifton’s Teen Talwar traffic intersection turned into a battleground on Sunday when police resorted to tear gas shelling and baton-charge activists of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) who converged there to take out an election rally.

The police also took into custody over two dozen PTI workers for attacking law enforcers and injuring at least six of them.

While the police claimed that the party did not obtain permission to organise a rally in the so-called red zone of the metropolis, the PTI said it was being deprived of its constitutional right of electioneering despite the fact that all other parties were holding rallies, public meetings in the metropolis freely.

Witnesses said several workers of the PTI arrived at the venue on the call of their interned leader Imran Khan to launch their election related activities. However, a heavy contingent of the police and personnel in plain clothes were already there to prevent them from staging the rally.

As the activists attempted to block the road for vehicular traffic, the police fired a few tear gas shells to disperse them. However, the PTI workers put up resistance and pelted the policemen with stones, causing to some of them.

Later, the police called reinforcements and reassembled at the venue and resorted to massive tear gas shelling, baton charged the crowd and managed to disperse them.

DIG-South Syed Asad Raza told Dawn that the police arrested 25 workers of the PTI and an FIR was being lodged against them.

He said the PTI held a political rally in the red zone without obtaining any no-objection certificate from the SSP or DC-South. “When they were stopped, they resorted to violence and pelted stones at police due to which Boat Basin SHO Riaz Niazi and several others suffered injuries and were shifted to a hospital,” he said.

The DIG claimed that the police were compelled to take action because the rally participants had blocked the main road in Clifton.

Police Surgeon Summaiya Syed said that seven policemen were brought for treatment at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.

PTI demands release of workers

However, the PTI said it had organised the rally after intimating relevant departments.

PTI Karachi spokesperson Falak Almas told Dawn that her party had ‘informed’ the district administration regarding their election rally.

She said initially they planned to take out a rally from Shahrah-i-Quaideen to the Quaid’s mausoleum but later they changed the venue from Seaview to Teen Talwar in Clifton because of the public meeting of the Jamaat-i-Islami at Bagh-i-Jinnah.

She claimed that when party workers arrived at the venue the police started tear gas shelling and baton-charge to disperse them. She accused the police of also thrashing women activists and said that at least 30 workers were arrested.

She warned that if the detained workers were not released, the PTI would give a citywide protest call.

The PTI leader alleged that the district administration and police were creating hurdles in their election-related activities, while PPP, MQM-P and JI were allowed to hold rallies, public meetings anywhere in the metropolis.

She lamented that the PTI was not being provided a level playing field.

Police action against journalists condemned Several media organisations have condemned the police action against journalists covering the PTI rally in Clifton. They urged the caretaker government to take action against those responsible for manhandling reporters and cameramen.

Separately, the Crime Reporters Association has submitted an application at the Boat Basin police station for registration of an FIR against policemen concerned.

It stated that several reporters, photographers and cameramen were discharging their professional duties at Teen Talwar during a clash between workers of a political party and police. However, a police officer, identified as DSP Zulfiqar Samoo, “tortured” journalists Mohammed Salman, Afzal Pervez and Ahmer Abbasi despite the fact that his subordinates told him about their identity.

“Therefore, the Crime Reporters Association wanted a legal action against the DSP and his staff,” the application said.

Later in the evening, a police spokesperson said that Karachi police chief Khadim Hussain Rind took notice of the police action against media persons and ordered an inquiry against responsible policemen.

To find your constituency and location of your polling booth, SMS your NIC number (no spaces) to 8300. Once you know your constituency, visit the ECP website here for candidates.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2024

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