KARACHI: A protest against the sacrilegious movie turned ugly on Sunday when the police resorted to a baton-charge and opened fire on a rally of the Majlis-i-Wahdat Muslimeen (MWM) that was heading towards the US Consulate. A protester was killed and eight others injured, while 22 policemen were hurt. However, in a press conference after the protest, the MWM denied the death of the protester saying he is under treatment at a hospital.
Despite the strong police action, the protesters succeeded in reaching the gates of the heavily guarded consulate building.
Following the protest, violence erupted in the MA Jinnah road area and Keamari in which armed miscreants torched a traffic police kiosk, five vehicles, including four police vans, and a petrol pump.
Blaming the protesters for the violence, police sources said that the rally announced by the MWM against the movie was proceeding towards the US Consulate when its leaders were told to stop at the Molvi Tameezuddin Khan Road. However, the MWM leaders ignored police directions and continued to proceed towards the consulate. At the same time, they also started pelting stones at the policemen deployed to protect the consulate. After coming under attack, the policemen resorted to a baton charge and tear gas shelling on the protesters. The police, meanwhile, called in a water cannon vehicle to control the crowd.
Meanwhile, reports came in of firing on the rally. While the organisers blamed the police for shooting at the protesters, Station House Officer (SHO) Ahmed Khan of the Jackson police station — who was injured during the violence — said it was not yet clear who had fired.
The injured were later moved to the Civil Hospital, Karachi, while one injured Raza Taqvi was moved to the Aga Khan Hospital where during treatment he expired. He was a resident of Abbas Town, while the injured were identified as Komail Raza, Shahid Hussain, Abbas Raza, Hasan Raza, Hussain, Umair and others. SHO Khan added that during the violence, about 22 policemen were also injured after being hit by stones.
The police said that afterwards, violence spread to Keamari Town where armed men resorted to aerial firing. Some miscreants also torched a traffic police kiosk in the area. The enraged mob was taken on by the Rangers as well, who also baton charged and rounded up some protesters from the spot.
Soon after, protesting against the arrest of activists of the Imamia Students Organisation and MWM, other activists of the party launched a protest and sit-in on the main M A Jinnah Road and demanded the release of their colleagues detained by the law enforcers.
Armed miscreants attacked two police mobiles near Prince and Capri cinemas on the main M A Jinnah Road and later torched them. Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Malik Ehsan of the Saddar Division confirmed that the miscreants had torched a police mobile of the Korangi police station and one of the Traffic Department.
Later, the violence expanded to the Numaish area and Guru Mandir Chowrangi where armed miscreants torched two more vehicles, including a police mobile, and also torched a petrol pump near the Guru Mandir Chowrangi.
As some media persons tried to enter the disturbed areas, unidentified miscreants attacked them. A DSNG van of a private TV channel was damaged and its staff was beaten up.
In Abbas Town and Abul Hasan Isphani Road, armed men resorted to aerial firing and forced the traders to close their shops.
Fasahat Mohiuddin adds: A spokesman for the MWM, said that a protester was shot dead while 18 others sustained injuries when a huge rally they had taken out reached near the US consulate. He claimed that the Rangers and police deployed at the US consulate opened fire, which resulted in injuries to them. He said the Labbaik Ya Rasoolullah (PBUH) rally was taken out to condemn the US and Israel over the blasphemous movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’.
A Jaffria Alliance spokesman, Ali Ahmer, talking to The News, said Raza Taqvi, 40, was shot dead in the firing of the police, Rangers and the ‘American security forces deployed at the US Consulate’. However, a spokesman for the US consulate categorically denied that any firing had taken place from inside the consulate or that the consulate had been breached by the protesters.
The MWM spokesman said that 18 other participants sustained injuries. The rally participants were raising slogans against the USA and demanded of the government to expel the US ambassador to Pakistan.
“The United States and the Zionist Israeli regime are involved in producing the blasphemous movie, which is an unpardonable crime,” said Maulana Sadiq Raza Taqvi, an official of the MWM while speaking at the rally.
Later, supporters of the MWM held a sit-in on the MA Jinnah road but dispersed peacefully late in the evening when the police released the party activists arrested from MT Khan road. The also denied that a protester had been killed during the protest.
Earlier, the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat also staged a large rally here at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday afternoon, condemning the movie that not only hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world but also resulted in massive protests.
A large police contingent was deployed at the KPC and protesters were not allowed to go beyond the press club. The religious leaders and participants of the rally, holding placards in their hands, demanded the government expel the US ambassador while some enraged participants burnt a US flag during the demonstration.
Meanwhile, thousands of people rallied across Pakistan on Sunday to denounce an anti-Islam film with protestors burning US flags and effigies of President Barack Obama, and calling to sever ties with Washington.
Widespread anger has spread across the country denouncing the anti-Islam movie, with some urging death for the filmmaker and others demanding that the US ambassador to Pakistan be expelled.
In Lahore, thousands of religious activists joined a Hurmat-e-Rasool (SAW) march to condemn the blasphemous movie, demanding that Islamabad end all pacts and sever diplomatic ties with the US.
The gathering also decided to call an All Parties Conference to take important decisions on the issue. The mammoth gathering of religious activists on the call of Jamatud Dawa unanimously demanded a death sentence for the US filmmaker and Bishop Terry Jones for their blasphemous acts.
The gathering was addressed by JD Ameer Hafiz Saeed, PML-Z President Ejazul Haq, Prof Abdul Rehman Makki, Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer, Maulana Ameer Hamza, Qari Zawwar Bahadur, Maulana Amjad Khan, Hafiz Abdul Ghaffar Ropri and others.
The march started from Nila Gunbad Chowk and concluded at Masjid-e-Shuhada as the people chanted vociferous slogans against the US, Israel and India.
Jamatud Dawa Ameer Hafiz Saeed said a blasphemy law should be made at the international level to protect the honour of all prophets.
Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Syed Munawar Hasan said a large number of the youth had gathered under the banner of the JI and they would spare no sacrifices for real change in the country. He was addressing a huge rally organised by Shabab-e-Milli on Punjab University New Campus.
Moreover, addressing a press conference, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith leader Hafiz Zubair Ahmed Zaheer said the protest by Muslims against blasphemy was natural. The Insaaf Student Federation also staged a protest demonstration.
Agencies add: Meanwhile, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) held a protest demonstration against the anti-Islam movie made by an American citizen.
A large number of JUI students and workers participated in the protest which was held outside the Lahore Press Club. The participants were carrying banners and placards inscribed with different slogans against the US government.
Addressing the occasion, JUI (F) central leader Maulana Amjad Khan strongly condemned the anti-Islam movie. JUI city amir Qari Sanaullah, Qari Saeed Amjad and others also spoke on the occasion.
Earlier, in Sialkot, a large number of people participated in a protest rally against the blasphemous movie while a rally was held by the Tehreek Khatam-e-Nabuwat.
The rally began from Allama Iqbal Chowk and ended at the same point after passing through all the city main roads and bazaars. The participants were holding placards and banners. They chanted anti-US slogans.
The JUI and Balochistan Muttahida Mahaz (BMM) held separate demonstrations in Quetta.In Multan, local traders held a rally and burnt effigies of the film-maker and controversial US pastor Terry Jones, who had promoted the film.Some 500 protesters also rallied in Muzaffarabad, where the local chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Maulana Abdul Aziz Alvi, described the movie as “shameful”.