KARACHI: Asghar Imam, a 54-year-old father of eight, who was wounded during a clash on Sunday between protesting residents of Orangi Town and police, succumbed to his injuries during treatment at a hospital on Monday.
He was wounded during the three-hour-long clash between protesters and police near his residence at Islam Chowk. He was shot once in his back during the protest and admitted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Three others were admitted at the hospital but doctors said they were out of danger. In a video that went viral on social media, police personnel could be seen opening fire at the protesters and a policeman could also be heard forcing a fellow cop to shoot at the protesters' heads.
Imam's family claimed that his death is proof that the police opened fire at the protesters. "Are we living in Kashmir where police open fire at protesters?" questioned Imam's relative Ghayyasuddin.
Zone West police chief DIG Zulfiqar Larik told the media that there was a ban in the province on holding rallies and protests as Section 144 had been imposed. "The police were negotiating with them [protesters] and the negotiations were proceeding successfully when one of the protesters started firing," he said.
The police claim the victim died due to the firing of the protesters. "There were some armed persons within the protesters who did it," claimed SSP Nasir Aftab. A day after the clash, the police registered a case against more than 250 people for holding protest against rising incidents of crimes within their locality. "Three cases were registered against over 250 protesters, including 31 nominated with their names, of which nine have already been arrested," said Orangi Division SP Hassan Sardar.
The case was registered on behalf of state at Pakistan Bazaar police station. Besides placing Sections of rioting, attacking the police, the police also placed Section 7 of the anti-terrorism act against the protesters.
The police was trying their level best to arrest the remaining suspects, said Orangi division SP Hassan Sardar. Islam Chowk area became a battleground on Sunday when hundreds of residents clashed with the police but who started the clash is still a mystery.
"No matter who started the clash or why, the issue is that the police opened fire on us and booked citizens with terrorism charges. Are we really the terrorists?" questioned Ammar Khan, one of the protesters.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2017.