KARACHI: A tense atmosphere prevailed in Lines Area after unidentified persons attacked and set the election office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on fire late Sunday evening.
According to party workers, a group of unidentified men reportedly arrived on around 50 motorcycles at the party's election office set up for the by-poll in the PS-115 constituency on Thursday and beat up MQM workers present there. After thrashing the MQM men, they also set the office on fire before fleeing.
A large contingent of law enforcers reached the site after the attack. The police later registered a case on behalf of an MQM worker, identified as Faisal, against more than 50 persons belonging to the party's dissident rival faction, Muhajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi (MQM-H).
Faisal, the complainant in the FIR, told The Express Tribune that party workers were sitting at the office ahead of a corner meeting scheduled for the day when MQM-H workers attacked them.
"Some of the attackers were from the same area while others were outsiders," claimed Faisal. "We have also named a few of MQM-H members in the FIR," he explained. The alleged MQM-H workers named in the FIR are Nomi, Faisal, Usman, Zahid, Taha and Iqbal.
The police said a case has been registered and further investigating is under way. Brigade police SHO Akbar Ghauri said the several raids were conducted for the arrest of the attackers, but no one has been held so far.
By-elections on the provincial assembly seat, vacated after the elected representative, MQM's Dr Arshad Abdullah Vohra, resigned after being nominated the party's candidate for Karachi's deputy mayor, are scheduled to be held on April 7, Thursday. Both MQM and Haqiqi are contesting the elections.
Attempt to provoke
In a press statement, the MQM Rabita Committee condemned the attack and demanded the chief election commissioner and the chief justice of Pakistan to take notice and called for the immediate arrest of those involved. The party also called for action against 'biased' police officers for not arresting the attackers.
"They [attackers] also resorted to aerial firing to spread fear and panic," said the statement. The party called it an attempt to provoke MQM workers, to disturb law and order in the city, and to stop them from voting in the PS-115 by-elections.
'They attacked us'
MQM-H spokesperson Khalid Hameedi said their workers were at a police station at the time of the attack at MQM's unit office. "The MQM destroyed its own office and are falsely blaming us. We were in a police station at the time as MQM had beaten five of our workers and we had gone there to register a complaint."
Hameedi said their UC-10 election camp office was damaged by MQM goons, adding that the Rangers and police were standing by as silent spectators during the attack.
Following pre-poll violence on Monday, Brigade SHO Akbar Ghauri was suspended and replaced by Ghulam Nabi Afridi.
Tensions between the rival groups continued till late into the night.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2016.
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