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MQM workers mass at SHC during May 12 hearing

September 11, 2007

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KARACHI, Sept 10: The Sindh High Court adjourned on Monday the suo motu inquiry into May 12 events for a week because of a massive gathering of workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

“The proceedings are being adjourned under compelling circumstances,” said a seven-member bench in a brief order after noting the request of lawyers appearing from the two sides.

The bench sent the file to the chief justice for necessary action to maintain security and discipline on September 17, the next date of hearing.

A large number of MQM workers, including women, carrying no flag or mark of identification, gathered in the court premises and entered the courtroom where the bench was to assemble at 8:30 am.

Some MNAs and MPAs of the party were also present and the room was jam-packed before the hearing could start. Mediapersons, assigned to cover the court proceedings, faced difficulty to enter the courtroom.

A section of the crowd standing in the court raised slogans in support of MQM leader Altaf Hussain.

The bench held consultations in the chamber adjoining the courtroom and called the lawyers representing the two sides for ascertaining their views.

The lawyers, including Sindh High Court Bar Association president Abrar Hasan, SHCBA secretary Munir-ur-Rehman, officiating advocate-general Masood Ahmed Noorani, special provincial government counsel Raja Qureshi, federal shipping and ports minister’s counsel Khwaja Naveed Ahmed, provincial home adviser’s counsel Iqtidar Ali Hashmi, and city district government counsel Habibur Rehman, said the proceedings could not be held in a disciplined manner in the presence of such a crowd.

Some of the lawyers said the large number of visitors belonged to different shades of political spectrum and there could be a threat to law and order besides a breach of the decorum of the court.

Provincial Home Adviser Waseem Akhtar belonging to the MQM had particularly been blamed for police inaction and acts of violence on May 12.

The atmosphere during the proceedings has been heating up with the government counsel questioning the composition of the bench saying that four of its members being complainants.

Deputy attorney-general Rizwan Siddiqui, who was stuck in Islamabad on Monday, and Khwaja Naveed Ahmed complained of mistreatment by their lawyer colleagues.

The bench also repeatedly rejected requests for adjournment by respondents’ counsel.