KARACHI, April 1: In a crackdown on Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal leaders and activists, police made a number of arrests late Thursday night. The crackdown, launched ahead of the Saturday strike announced by the MMA, continued on Friday.

There were conflicting claims about the number of arrests. While city police chief Tariq Jameel put the figure at a little more than 200, the MMA claimed that over 2,000 of its leaders and workers had been rounded up by Friday evening.

At the same time, a massive deployment of police was made across the city as part of the measures being taken to foil any attempt to create a law and order situation.

Sources in the police department said that town police officers had been given a free-hand to deal with activists of the alliance. The TPO’s have specifically been told to ensure that no law and order situation was created in their respective towns.

The crackdown on MMA activists started with the arrest of about 50 people who were picked up from the Idra Noor-i-Haq, head-office of Jamaat-i-Islami, located near Muslimabad. Police raided the office late on Thursday night and took everyone present there into custody. The watchman of the office was also picked up. Prior to the raid, a heavy contingent of police cordoned off the area.

At least 30 MMA activists were rounded up from Gulshan Town during the crackdown. Hafiz Mohammad Taqi, a prominent JI leader, was picked up from his residence in Gulshan-i-Iqbal on Thursday.

A senior police official requesting anonymity told Dawn that by early Friday, 180 MMA workers had been rounded up from various parts of the city.

Police also picked up Qari Saleem of the JUI from his residence in PIB Colony and Maulana Ghiasuddin of the same party from his house in Sachal area.

Raids were also conducted at different places in Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, Malir, Quaidabad, New Karachi, F B Area, North Nazimabad, Liaquatabad, Orangi, Baldia, Surjani, Lyari and various other parts of the city.

MNAs Mohammad Husain Mahenti and Laiq Ahmed, and MPAs Hameedullah and Younis Barai were also among those picked up on Friday. According to the MMA, the four legislators had gone to meet CCPO Tariq Jameel but were taken into custody.

Refuting the claim, the CCPO, when contacted by Dawn, maintained that the legislators did hold a meeting with him. He claimed that they were detained by police while they were on their way back.

Sources in the police department said that the four legislators were picked up as they came out of the Central Police Office on I.I. Chundrigar Road.

The CCPO, however, insisted that only workers, and not leaders, of the MMA were being picked up. He said that police would ensure peace and security on Saturday and nobody would be allowed to take the law into his hands.

“The arrests are being made following complaints that MMA activists have been harassing traders, shopkeepers and other people in their attempt to enforce the shutterdown,” he claimed.

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