Karachi: Fear grips Saddar amid firing, arson attack
KARACHI: A young watchman sustained burn wounds in arson attack on a scrap warehouse in Saddar and was shot dead as he rushed out to save his life in the early hours of Thursday, police said.
As peace returned to Orangi Town with the help of some political efforts after the recent spate of `ethnic` killings, the Rainbow Centre and Empress Market area became the centre of the night-long violence that kept residents of Lines Area and local traders in the vicinity of Saddar in the grip of fear.
The residents said they could not sleep amid reports of arson attacks on shops and an armed attack on the Saddar fire station, which left three people wounded. However, DIG (south) Iqbal Mehmood said that the situation became violent only for a brief period.
“There was no serious incident as such but a rumour campaign from an unknown circle in fact wrecked peace.”
He said: “A gunfight was witnessed between two groups but it was controlled by the area police within the shortest possible time. Rumours were then spread that several people had been killed. Unfortunately, the broadcast media followed such misleading information.”
DIG Mehmood also cited text messages that originated from an unidentified source circulating rumours that at least three people had been killed and a number of shops destroyed in arson attacks in the Rainbow Centre and Empress Market area. “We are locating the source which forwarded the message to spark panic. There seems an organised campaign behind this entire exercise,” he said.
Officials at the Preedy police station recorded some facts shared with them by the residents regarding the breakdown of law and order in Saddar.
The police registered a case (FIR 383/2011) about the killing of 18-year-old Zahir Shah. He sustained a single bullet wound in the head as he ran for safety after suffering burn wounds in the fire at the scrap godown, an official at the Preedy police station said.
“The victim was the watchman of the scrap and paper godown situated in a street near the Rainbow Centre.”
The official said: “Armed groups exchanged gunfire and some of them in the meantime set fire to the godown, where Zahir Shah was sleeping. Some witnesses said he came out of the godown in panic but armed men killed him at a point-blank range.”While the Awami National Party claimed the victim was their activist, the investigators doubt the party`s claim. They said the victim worked as a rag-picker during the day and as a watchman at the godown at night. Following the youth`s killing, armed men targeted the Saddar fire station by opening fire on its officials. Two staff members, Mohammad Hussain and Ali Manzil, were wounded in the firing and were shifted to the civil hospital.“Some armed men also took positions over the rooftop of the Rainbow Centre and exchanged gunfire. Though three shops were attacked in the violence, the timely intervention from the area police saved them from any major damage,” said the official.
Meanwhile, peace returned to most parts of Orangi Town after three-day violence left more than 20 people dead.
While no arrest was made by Rangers and police to bring back normality to the town, talks among the political leaders proved effective.
However, the situation remained tense till the early hours of Thursday in Kali Pahari, Kati Pahari, Qasba Colony, Bukhari Colony, Aligarh Colony, Gulfamabad, Ismalia Colony and Muslimabad. The police said that a 25-year-old man, identified as Jamaluddin, was killed in MPR Colony. “He was a resident of Kunwari Colony and was hit by a single bullet in the chest while returning home late in the night,” said an official at the Manghopir police station.