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April 20, 2021

Partial strike observed in Karachi against Lahore clashes


April 20, 2021

Karachi was partially closed on Monday after former Ruet-e-Hilal Committee chairman Mufti Muneebur Rehman’s call for a nationwide strike in protest against Sunday’s police action against the workers and sympathisers of the recently banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan in Lahore.

Most of the major markets in Karachi were kept shut, public transport largely remained off the roads and most of the educational institutions remained closed after traders and transporters announced their support for Mufti Muneeb’s strike call.

Though no major untoward incident was reported in Karachi, fear due to the uncertainty of the situation spread across the city soon after the strike call was issued the previous night, followed by traders and transporters backing the call and protesters gathering on the roads and in the streets in different areas.

Some parts of the city, including Mauripur, New Karachi, Korangi, Orangi Town and Shah Faisal Colony, were affected due to sit-ins as well as scuffles between the police and the protesters.

New Karachi

In New Karachi, some violent protesters also resorted to aerial firing and hurled stones, forcing the police to interfere. The incident resulted in at least six people, including a policeman, being injured.

The entire city was on high alert following the strike call. An extra contingent of law enforcers was called in to handle the New Karachi situation. Over a dozen miscreants were detained, while the sit-in ended after the police took action against the protesters.

Police said the protesters gathered on the road near the Saba Cinema in New Karachi No. 7 and blocked it with barricades and tyres, causing a traffic jam in the area. They also shouted slogans against the police and the government.

SHO Younus Khattak said the police tried to negotiate with the protesters several times but they continued agitating as well as attacked the law enforcers with stones and bullets, compelling the officials to use force.

The SHO said the police used tear gas and aerial firing to disperse the protesters, adding that five protesters were injured, while a policeman named Alam also suffered injuries after being hit with stones.

The officer said Alam was taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, adding that the injured protesters were identified as Javed Qasim, 23, Osama Raees, 24, Younus Moosa, Sonu Ali and Nabil Sajid, 18.

SHO Khattak said the teenager was in critical condition because he had suffered a bullet to the head, adding that he was rushed to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. He said the others were shot in the arms and legs.

He said it is yet to be ascertained if the injured were protesters or passersby, adding that over a dozen suspects were taken into custody for disrupting law and order and attacking the police with stones and bullet.

Orangi Town

The situation in Orangi Town No. 1 also remained tense as clashes broke out between law enforcers and protesters during the wee hours. A policeman was injured after the protesters attacked the officials with stones.

Police detained around 16 suspects for rioting and attacking the law enforcers, with terrorism cases registered against them. Police claimed the protesters had petrol bombs to attack the law enforcers, and the protesters also torched tyres and other materials to block the traffic flow. A vehicle was also reportedly set on fire in Shah Faisal Colony, but police and fire brigade officials said they did not have any information about any vehicle being torched in the area.

The atmosphere in different parts of Karachi, including Shah Faisal Colony, Orangi Town, Mauripur and Korangi, remained tense. The protest in Korangi No. 2½ was still under way at the time this report was filed. Traffic police officials had designated alternative routes for vehicular traffic, while a heavy contingent of law enforcers was present on the scene to avoid any untoward incident.

Markets stay shut

Markets across Karachi were kept closed after Mufti Muneeb’s call, while a strike was also observed at the city courts in protest, add our correspondents.

Saddar, Zainab Market, Saddar Electronics Market, Mobile Market, Bohri Bazaar, Lea Market and other major markets in the downtown area remained closed. All the other markets in different parts of the city also remained either completely or partially shut.

Public transport and overall traffic remained relatively thin, while some of the filling stations also remained closed. Several transport and traders associations had announced support for the strike call.

Transporters & Goods Association General Secretary Muhammad Hussain had welcomed the strike call by Mufti Muneeb, and said that all goods transport would stay off the roads.

The North Karachi Association of Trade & Industry had also welcomed the strike call and suspended their business activities, while the All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran had also announced its support for the strike call.

All Pakistan CNG Association Central Chairman Shoaib Khan had announced during the wee hours that all CNG filling stations of the city would remain closed due to the strike call. All City Tajir Association President Hammad Puna had also welcomed the strike call and demanded that the government resolve the issue through dialogue.

The All Karachi Milk Welfare Association had also welcomed the strike call and announced keeping milk shops across the city closed. While the major markets of the city remained completely shut, groceries and other shops selling essential food items inside different areas of the city were kept open. However, in some localities of the city where law and order was disrupted, such as Malir, Korangi, New Karachi and Kala Board, shops were closed and transport taken off the roads.

‘Black day’

The lawyer fraternity observed a strike at the city courts to protest against the Lahore clashes. Karachi Bar Association (KBA) General Secretary Amir Nawaz Warraich said in a statement that the legal fraternity termed it a “black day”. He added that the government must negotiate with the protesters.

The KBA statement also said that all the matters should be resolved amicably and without any violence, while such incidents should be prevented from happening in future. It made it clear that the legal fraternity had serious reservations over the government’s approach towards handling the matter.