WEB DESK: Activists of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) clashed with police and ransacked a private television station in Karachi on Monday, leaving at least one man dead and seven others injured. The violence erupted soon after the influential Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party’s exiled chief, Altaf Hussain, stoked up his supporters in the city, castigating the media for not giving them due coverage.
— Izhar arrested; Sattar detained, released
His activists, who had just ended a week-long hunger strike against a government crackdown against them, attacked the ARY station after Hussain addressed them by phone from self-imposed exile in London. MQM workers also clashed with police on the streets, sparking volleys of gunshots and tear gas at several places across the city, police and witnesses said.
“We have carried out teargas shelling to disperse the mob, who were trying to attack a television office,” senior police officer Saqib Ismail said. One unidentified man was killed and seven others injured, two with gunshot wounds, according to hospital officials. “One was brought (to the hospital) dead, who was shot with a gun,” Dr Seemin Jamali, the director at a state-run hospital told AFP.
Three of the injured belonged to media organisations, she said. Television footage showed dozens of men and women barging into ARY’s office, smashing doors, windows and equipment with rods and batons and setting fire to several vehicles. The MQM protesters had earlier gathered outside the nearby Karachi Press Club where some had been on hunger strike to protest against alleged attacks by security forces on their members in Pakistan’s violent commercial hub.
The MQM has held sway over Karachi for years and law enforcement agencies, its opponents and many residents have accused it of racketeering, abduction, torture and murder in its bid to maintain power. The party denies links to crime.
OUR REPORTER ADDS: The Sindh Rangers on Monday arrested senior MQM leaders – Farooq Sattar and leader of opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khwaja Izharul Hassan here but later released Dr Farooq Sattar. As soon as both MQM leaders reached on Karachi Press Club (KPC) with a view to holding a press conference, Rangers personnel arrived there and barred them from entering KPC to hold a press conference. The MQM leaders were taken to an undisclosed location by Rangers.