The owners of cinema houses, who saw their places of business reduced to ashes during Friday’s anti-Islam film protests on MA Jinnah Road, appealed to the government for compensation at an urgently called press briefing held on Monday. They warned that if there was no financial assistance from authorities, the historic cinemas responsible for entertaining generations of Karachiites would never be rebuilt.
The members of Pakistan Film Exhibitor Association (PFEA) – Southern Zone, during a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, appealed to the president and prime minister to assess the damage and compensate the owners for losses that could run into hundreds of millions of rupees.
The chairman of PFEA-South, Nadeem Mandviwala, was saddened by the burning of cinema houses in Karachi. “The protestors would have painted a much better picture of Pakistan to the world had they proceeded peacefully, but instead, the miscreants resorted to damaging the property of their own Muslim brothers,” he said.
“The government should establish a commission and provide compensation to the cinema owners. It will require exhaustive rebuilding efforts to get them up and running again,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Adeel, the owner of Bambino cinema, termed the action of the mob as barbaric. “Everything from my office was taken, including the LCDs and computers, and the sad part is that this was all done in the name of Islam.” He said that his cinema house was not insured as he was unable to afford insurance costs. The cinema owner said that that the association needed to take a unified stand to obtain reasonable compensation for their losses.
Chaudhry Farrukh of Capri Cinema alleged that those who caused the damage were not merely protesters; but criminals. He pointed out that apart from assaulting one of his employees, the miscreants also burnt down the premises.
“They had come prepared with rods and bolt cutters. My employee had no other choice but to run from the scene to save his life. What was Islamic about these acts of violence? They only play a role in tarnishing the image of the peace-loving Muslims of our country” Who has given them the right to destroy another man’s property? Farrukh further stated that without the help of PFEA, he would never be able to rebuild his cinema.
The association also appealed to the government to ban all forms of processions on MA Jinnah Road as they could prove disastrous for the owners of the private property on that road.
The members hoped that the president and the prime minister would take all the necessary steps to avoid any circumstances that risked the private property of citizens.
Rioters on Friday set fire to all the major cinemas on MA Jinnah road. Reports claimed that the mob was equipped with petrol, despite the fact that gas stations were closed.
It was also reported that they were carrying tools to unscrew expensive goods such as split air-conditions, which hinted that the riots were planned and not a spontaneous fit of rage.