KARACHI, May 22: At least 12 people have been killed and 29 injured in violence that erupted after unidentified gunmen opened fire on a rally organised by the Awami Tehreek and banned Peoples Amn Committee (PAC) in Karachi on Tuesday.
The protestors were rallying against the proposed Mohajir province and operation in Lyari.
Soon after the attack, the protest turned violent and dozens of cars and motorbikes were torched. The violence, which erupted in the Napier Road area, spread to the nearby localities including Lyari.
Police personnel deployed to maintain security failed to control the situation, however, after Rangers arrived, violence was brought under control.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has taken notice of the violence and has sought a report from the Sindh government.
Meanwhile Express News reported that Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that Awami Tehreek and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, PAC, Punjabi-Pakhtun Ittehad (PPI), KCI had participated in the rally, but they had not sought prior permission from the government. A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been formed to investigate into the matter.
Later, while commenting on Twitter, Malik said he had proposed to Chief Minister Sindh for an inquiry into the incident through a judge of the Sindh High Court. The Court should then ascribe responsibility for a probe.
The interior minister, further tweeted late Tuesday night, posing questions to the parties involved in the rally, asking why Ayub Awan, Ayaz Latif Palijo and particularly PML-N’s Marvi Memon led 2000 people into sensitive areas including Lyari and Kharadar.
Malik blamed PML-N for the deaths, caused due to the violence.
He also shrugged off any responsibility for the episode of violence, saying that it was the responsibility of the local police, Home Secretary Sindh and Chief Minister Sindh, adding that he is only responsible for providing logistical support and forces.
Due to today’s violence, Board of Intermediate Education in Karachi and Hyderabad have postponed exams scheduled to be held on Wednesday. The exams will now be held on May 30 in Karachi and May 26 in Hyderabad.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Wasay Jalil expressed sorrow over the incident and called it a planned activity. He further claimed that the rally “had caused the violence”
Awami Tehreek President Ayaz Palijo, in a press conference, said that the police left the areas as soon as firing began and the PPP “stood there, watching Sindhis being killed”.
“I thank PML-N and Jamaat-e-Islami who supported us in the protest,” he added.
He further warned that every drop of blood that was shed in today’s riots will be avenged, “not from innocent Urdu-speaking people, but from terrorists”.
Palijo also said that he had received text messages last night from a certain party which threatened of repeating the May 12 scenario today during the protest.