KARACHI: A fruit shop and some half a dozen roadside stalls of poultry and other food items were set on fire in Malir after a protester was killed in an attack on a protest demonstration staged by people against the kidnapping of a youngster on Wednesday, police and witnesses said.
The early morning protest was staged in the Malir 15 area by residents of Maularam Compound against the kidnapping of a hawker, Mohammad Arif, who was a worker of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. He was found dead in Al-Falah area after the sunset, police said.
DIG East Dr Amir Sheikh said: “Arif was kidnapped shortly after he left his residential compound for regular work. Subsequently, residents took to the streets against the kidnapping. We diverted traffic on to a single track and managed to keep the protesters peaceful during the entire episode,” he said.However, the witnesses said, the situation turned ugly when the protesters came under an attack from armed men positioned in nearby buildings. Intense and indiscriminate firing dispersed the protesters and left five of them wounded.
“The injured victims were shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where one of them succumbed to his wounds,” said an official at the Malir City police station. “He has been identified as Mohammad Khursheed, in his early 20s. He was a resident of Maularam Compound and originally hailed from Azad Kashmir.”
The news of Khursheed’s death fuelled violent protests as charged protesters then took to the National Highway and hurled stones at the vehicles. A large number of protesters attempted to reach the Malir City police station but were baton charged on their way.
While the police were engaged in baton charge, some enraged youths ransacked roadside stalls at the Malir 15 bus stop and setting fire to them.
“A fruit shop and some half a dozen roadside stalls of chicken and other food items were burnt to ashes,” said an official at the central fire station. “A fire tender of the Malir station rushed to the area but could not reach the fire timely due to a breakdown of law and order and lack of security.”
The situation forced law-enforcers to move in and heavy contingent of police backed by rangers rushed to the affected area. The swathe between Malir 15 and Malir Mandir remained affected for a couple of hours that also witnessed an exchange of fire between armed men and law enforcers.
The situation started returning to normalcy when some elected area representatives mediated talks between the protesters and police high-ups to bring an end to the violent protest.
Police said that they had picked up more than a dozen men suspected to be involved in the kidnapping and killing of the young hawker. “The people behind this action have been identified,” said DIG East Dr Sheikh. “Apart from the people involved in Arif’s kidnapping, miscreants for causing a breakdown of law and order in the garb of protest have also been identified and a few of their aides have been arrested.”