KARACHI, May 25: A protest against water shortages and power outages in a Korangi locality turned violent on Wednesday, when a young man was killed amid police and Rangers attempts to disperse the charged crowd. The killing fuelled violence and a passenger coach was also set on fire, officials and witnesses said.
The protest erupted in Korangi 1Â½, where residents of Zaman Town took to the streets against persistent water scarcity in the low-income neighbourhood as well as hours-long power breakdowns. They also accused the area hydrants of water theft under police protection, adding to water shortages in the area.
The police force from Korangi and Bin Qasim towns failed to meet the challenge as hundreds of area residents, including women and children, attacked one hydrant before an attempt was made at another across the road. They also blocked the main road at Korangi 1Â½ to suspend traffic.
“The protest in fact sparked off in our area, where some people during a protest attacked a hydrant operating in the area,” said SP of Korangi Usman Ghani. “But we intervened on time and dispersed people at the site. The hydrant was damaged in the attack but we managed to control the situation shortly.”
After hide-and-seek with the Korangi police, the protesters marched to the other end of the road of Korangi 1Â½ that fell under the Bin Qasim Town police administration and targeted another hydrant.
“Our police team was also there to tackle the situation,” said SP Akram Abro of Bin Qasim Town. “In the meantime Rangers were also called in as a backup. We persuaded the protesters to continue their demonstration without causing any damage to private property. We also cleared the road that was blocked with burning tyres and wooden stuff.”
He said a few among the demonstrators, however, continued with their violent mode of protest, which was seriously challenged by the law-enforcers and multiple attempts to attack the hydrant were foiled. However, the Korangi SP, said that during this episode a few shots were fired and one of the bullets hit a youngster among the protesters.
“The firing caused panic and the protesters dispersed,” he said, adding that a 32-year-old wounded man, Muhammad Amjad, was taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where he died during treatment. The police officer was clueless about the people and motive behind the firing that killed the young man.
“It's not yet clear. We also were there with the Rangers, but no shot was fired by the police. We are investigating the incident. It might be an act of people working at the hydrant fearing a violent attack by the protesters,” said SP Abro.
The spokesman for the Sindh Rangers also denied any role of the paramilitary force in the incident.
He said no shot was fired by Rangers personnel present on the site of the incident. The area police said the victim was a resident of the same locality and worked as a factory worker.
Tension gripped the locality after the incident as area residents blamed the law-enforcers for the shooting death, and they returned with much violent reaction.
After sunset, a passenger coach was intercepted near the Matkay Wali Pulya in Korangi 1Â½ in the evening and set on fire.
“A fire tender rushed to the site but the firefighters returned without doing the job due to a serious security threat. Our vehicle came under attack when charged youngsters pelted stones,” said an official at the Korangi fire station. The situation stayed tense till late in the evening and the police authorities said they had increased the force in number.
“Investigations into the firing incident are under way. We would definitely make arrests once people and their motive are identified. But right now there is no clue to such links,” said SP Abro.