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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Police fire tear gas; imply Baton charge amidst protests in Karachi

Sardar Abdul Rahim, the GDA's Information Secretary, denounced the arrests of over 2,000 party members, affirming the continuation of protests until their demands were met.

Karachi’s streets became a battleground on Saturday as police resorted to tear gas and baton charges against opposition party protesters breaching Section 144 while attempting to enter the highly fortified Red Zone. This crackdown led to the arrest of numerous demonstrators. The Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had jointly organized a demonstration outside the Sindh Assembly during its inaugural session, citing alleged election rigging during the recent general elections.

The situation escalated rapidly as police actions triggered protests spreading across various parts of the city, disrupting traffic on major roads. To contain the unrest, authorities deployed a significant police presence on Sharae Faisal, strategically blocking routes from Karsaz and Nursery with containers, exacerbating traffic congestion. Similarly, access to the Sindh Assembly and Karachi Press Club was obstructed with containers placed near Urdu Bazar and the Arts Council, alongside other road closures.

DIG South, in anticipation of potential property damage, attributed responsibility to the GDA-aligned protesters and other opposition factions. Sardar Abdul Rahim, the GDA’s Information Secretary, denounced the arrests of over 2,000 party members, affirming the continuation of protests until their demands were met.

traffic plans disrupted 

In response to the traffic chaos, an alternative traffic plan diverted vehicles away from the protest hotspots towards Awan-e-Sadar, Khajoor Chowk, Fresco Chowk, and Regal Chowk. Commuters were advised to avoid unnecessary travel and seek alternate routes in emergencies.

Various political parties, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), orchestrated protests throughout the city. Meanwhile, authorities enforced roadblocks around the Sindh Assembly, impeding the oath-taking ceremony for newly-elected members.

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The decision to impose Section 144 aimed to safeguard security and order during the Sindh Assembly’s inaugural session. However, it led to confrontations between law enforcement and protesters, resulting in clashes, tear gas firings, and arrests. Traffic disruptions on Shahrae Faisal and at major entry points compounded the city’s woes, affecting both commuters and flight schedules. The heavy police presence remained deployed around the Sindh Assembly and key intersections to prevent further escalation of tensions.