KARACHI: Anger and frustration run high among the Baloch residents of Karachi against the operation in Lyari. There were two violent protests at Mauripur Road and in front of the press club.
Early on Monday morning, hundreds of people walked through the streets of Nayabad and Khadda Market and then blocked the road from ICI Bridge to Shershah for over three hours. They also pelted passing vehicles with stones.
The police tried to disperse the protesters with tear gas but they remerged in clusters from Niazi Chowk and other streets. They also beat up the passengers and looted them. The hide-and-seek with the police continued till the evening.
The people who left their homes to go work in the morning on either side of the area were stuck at Native Jetty Bridge and many had to go by foot. All private and public schools in Lyari were closed while only a few shops were observed to go about their business.
“I was going to Merewether Tower to pick up passengers when some boys hit my car,” said a taxi driver, Muhammad Kalam. “There is no police. I didn’t know there was a protest. They should inform the people beforehand so that they can come by alternative routes.”
In the afternoon, the Baloch residents from the outskirts of Malir and Baldia, and other parts of the city, made their way to the press club stuffed in more than six buses and motorcycles. Young men wearing shalwar qameez and with their faces covered attacked other protesters who had set up camp outside the press club and burnt pictures of President Asif Ali Zardari, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, MNA Faryal Talpur and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari after beating them with shoes.
The people came from Malir, Dalmia, Razaqabad, Jumma Goth, Jam Kunda, Saleh Muhammad Goth and other areas. They chanted slogans against the government and described the operation as genocide of the Baloch people by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government in collaboration with its coalition partner, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
Support from rural Sindh
The Lyari operation has also caused ripples around Sindh and elicited a protest movement across the province by the people and nationalist parties.
The people of Shaheed Benazirabad, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Tandojam and other districts protested against the operation and members of nationalist parties observed hunger strikes on Monday.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2012.