KARACHI: In an unusual turn of events, citizens fed up with forced collection of fitra ransacked the office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Orangi Town on Thursday.
Earlier, some people were accused of killing two men for not paying extortion money. However, it could not be verified if these men belonged to the MQM, whose office ultimately bore the brunt. On Wednesday night, 22-year-old trader Muhammad Shahid and Ikhlas Rasool, 13, were shot dead in a brawl between Shahid and some people, who had come to collect fitra. Another youngster, Danish Saleem, was injured in the clash.
While the men took the dead for burial Thursday afternoon, women and youngsters besieged the office, which had already been abandoned.
“Shahid was being pressured to pay Rs40,000 as fitra,” said an official of Pakistan Bazar police station. “When he refused to comply, a heated argument ensued and some gunshots were also fired.”
Shahid was a garments trader and used to set up stalls in different areas of the city. People of Orangi Town, especially Al-Mustafa Colony where the deceased lived, are known to support one political party. But after the incident, people took to the streets to voice their anger and started shouted slogans against the party.
“This incident probably tested the patience of the residents,” said an eyewitness. “When you kill an innocent person, political inclinations don’t matter. You can’t see a son or brother being killed and not do anything about it.”
A senior police official said this has happened before. “We have seen how people who support a particular political party can turn against it if the activists turn rogue. But the Orangi Town incident has amazed me as well.”
Extortion has become an everyday reality in Karachi. Police say rouge elements within political parties and Lyari gangsters extort money from traders and businessmen.
The funeral prayers of the victims were offered at Al-Habib Mosque where Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s MPAs Manzar Imam and Saifuddin Khalid were also present.
No case was registered until the filling of this report.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.