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KARACHI, March 12: A group of women demonstrators belonging to the Muhajir Qaumi Movement were beaten up by their rivals in front of the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday, eyewitnesses said.

The women demonstrators had assembled on the press club road to demand the restoration of the judiciary. They also chanted slogans in favour of Afaq Ahmed.

Some women who were fleeing after the attack alleged that they had been manhandled. The attackers fired into the air to stop cameramen from taking pictures and scare away media personnel covering the demonstration.

A cameraman who kept filming the incident was given a thrashing.

The driver of a private TV channel’s van, who waited for his colleagues covering the event, was kidnapped from outside the KPC by some six men.

“They came in a black Honda car. They first kept me on the ground floor of Sidco Centre where some other men had also been detained by them. They then shoved me into their car, saying that I had brought the Haqiqi women in my vehicle. They blindfolded me and took me away,” Wajahat Ashraf told Dawn after being released.

He said the kidnappers took away his driving licence and office card.

“Later they dropped me at the press club on a motorbike after being convinced that I was actually a television channel employee.”

Eyewitnesses said the police party present there chose not to do anything. However, they later allowed Muhajir Qaumi Movement women and children to go away.

The Karachi Union of Journalist (KUJ) condemned the attack on newsmen and demanded of the authorities to ensure security to the life and property of the media men.

In a statement, KUJ President Khurshid Tanvir and General Secretary Khurshid Abbasi said dozens of armed men besieged the Karachi Press Club for hours and beat journalists coming in and going out of the club with a heavy contingent of police standing there as silent spectators.

KPC President Najib Ahmed and Secretary Imtiaz Faran also condemned the incident.

Meanwhile, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement said it had nothing to do with what happened outside the KPC on Wednesday.

MQM leader Faisal Sabzwari told Dawn that those who manhandled women demonstrators and newsmen were not the party workers. “The attackers used the name of MQM,” he said.

Mr Sabzwari went on to say that a delegation of the Muttahida leaders visited the KPC office bearers at the club and clarified to them the party position.