Karachi: Two killed in poll-related shootout
KARACHI: An eight-year-old girl and a man died when they were hit by stray bullets as Ranchhore Line turned into a battlefield on Tuesday after a scuffle between workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Pakistan People’s Party led to firing which left four persons, including a policeman, wounded.
The clash brought life in the area to a standstill.
The victims were identified as Maryam and Mohammad Ali.
A PPP provincial assembly candidate from the area was fired upon when he was driving back after failing to meet the hospitalised men injured in the shootout.
Eyewitnesses said armed persons surrounding the Civil Hospital, roughed up Habib Jan, the PPP candidate from PS-110 who lost to Mohammad Shoaib of the MQM.
Two men accompanying Mr Jan were also beaten up inside the hospital’s emergency section by unknown armed men. However, police escorted out all the three from the Civil Hospital with a policeman for their security.
“When their car came outside in the street along the Civil Hospital, it was fired upon. In the shooting, a policeman, Ahmed Ali of the Risala police station, was wounded. Later he was moved to hospital for treatment,” he said, adding that Mr Jan also received a minor injury when a bullet brushed past his right hand.
Free movement of armed persons in the area and nonstop firing, which continued late in the night, forced the businesses to close in one of the busiest areas of the city while the law and order situation also affected work of Civil Hospital staff.
The clash, which erupted hours after the announcement of the unofficial results of the general election, also put a question mark over the future of a possible coalition set-up between the two political parties, whose leaders have hinted at cooperating with each other to form a government after achieving major wins in the polls. Area people and eyewitnesses said women workers of the PPP were holding a rally to celebrate the party’s electoral victory. However, jubilation turned into a protest when some activists started chanting slogans against the MQM, which they alleged had rigged polls in Karachi.
“The two sides came face-to-face with each other in the Hoti Market area, where MQM workers had already gathered,” said an eyewitness. “The situation turned serious when the MQM workers intercepted them while they were chanting anti-MQM slogans.”
Area police said the two sides roughed up each other’s men and used sticks and stones in the initial clash. As the PPP claimed its women workers had suffered injuries during the clash, the police failed to recognize the party responsible for the firing, which continued for hours. Though business activity came to a halt in the evening in fear and panic, the authorities did not see the violence as a major incident following peaceful polling held a day earlier.
“The situation is under control and it was a very short-lived episode, as police reached the spot on time to save the area from a flare-up of violence,” said Captain Tahir Naveed, SP of Saddar Town. “The parties were actually celebrating their victories but obviously there are chances of violence when they decide to do it before each other.”
Police did not register an FIR about the incident.
“We are gathering facts and then we will register a case in line with the defined regulations,” said Nabi Bux, the police station officer.
The Civil Hospital received three injured – Pervez, Rashid and Gulzar of ages ranging from 45 to 50. All the victims were hit in the abdomen. Area police claimed that the injured were passersby and not associated with any of the rival groups.
However, dozens of PPP workers gathered outside the hospital after the incident. They left the hospital after the area came under intense fire. The PPP accused the MQM of provoking the incident. It also alleged that the MQM had rigged the polls and used the caretaker government as a platform for maneuvering the poll results.
“We won both national and provincial assembly seats from the area but by the morning the results were changed on the direct involvement of the Sindh governor,” said Habib Jan, the PPP candidate from the constituency.
He said the MQM was not allowing opponents to celebrate their victory in the elections neither they had a right to raise voice against rigging, which could lead to more law and order problems in the coming days.
However, the MQM’s coordination committee rejected such allegations and accused the PPP of damaging law and order through armed violence instead of accepting defeat.
“The armed activists of PPP opened fire on MQM workers in Malwari Lane, which hit area people and our worker Muhammad Ali of Unit-26,” said a MQM statement.
However, it asked the MQM workers to remain calm and avoid confrontation with the opponents who is said were attempting the wreck the city’s peace.
The complete article can be found at Dawn News.