KARACHI / HYDERABAD: MQM-London members were barred from reaching a monument in Karachi and a graveyard in Hyderabad to commemorate the party’s ‘martyrs day’ on Saturday.
Nearly a dozen activists of the MQM-London, including women, were detained by law-enforcement officials when they tried to breach the security cordon around the Yadgar-e-Shahuda in Karachi.
Earlier, hundreds of MQM-London workers, including women and children, gathered at Liaquat Ali Khan Chowk, formerly known as Mukka Chowk, on Saturday afternoon to mark the ‘martyrs day’. They were chanting slogans in favour of the party’s founder, Altaf Hussain.
This was the first time since August 22 last year that Nine Zero, the party’s headquarters that has been sealed off by security agencies, and the surrounding area echoed with slogans in favour of Hussain.
The party activists arrived in Azizabad on cars and motorcycles in the form of a rally but they were repeatedly barred by security personnel from reaching the Yadgar-e-Shahuda.
Despite facing a virtual ban, the party activists were successful in showing their presence.
“We are here for the Muhajir cause and to salute our martyrs,” said Imran Ali, a senior party worker. “We have not gone away. We will come here again and again whenever the Quaid-e-Tehreek calls us.”
Extra contingents of law enforcers, including the police and Rangers, were deployed in the Azizabad neighbourhood, completely stifling all civic and commercial activities in the area.
All roads leading to the Jinnah Ground and Nine Zero were completely sealed by law enforcers.
Police personnel, brandishing batons, were also equipped with water cannons and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to deal with any untoward incident.
More than 500 cops, including female officials, were deployed near the Yadgar-e-Shuhada.
Tensions mounted when the police baton-charged the party workers who tried again and again to reach the Yadgar-e-Shahuda monument built in the memory of the party’s ‘martyrs’ at the Jinnah Ground in Azizabad.
“The police also used tear gas shells to disperse the protesters,” one of the party activists said.
Rangers troops were also out in support of the police personnel.
A supporter, who identified himself as Jasim Rizvi, said: “We tried a number of times to visit the Yadgar-e-Shahuda but failed. Every time we tried to reach the monument, the police started baton-charging and arresting us.”
Later, women supporters held a Quran Khwani on the road and dispersed peacefully.
Police officials said that all of the detainees were released.
“The policy was to stop them from vising the Yadgar-e-Shahuda and we stopped them,” said District Central SSP Irfan Baloch.
SSP Baloch said that the police had detained at least four men and a woman, who were later released.
A dozen women activists of the MQM-London were barred by the police from entering a graveyard in the Pakka Qila area on Saturday in a bid to commemorate the MQM’s ‘martyrs day’.
The police had cordoned off all roads leading to the fort’s entrance since the morning.
“Our blood will spark a revolution,” chanted the women who berated the police for denying them access to the “graves of their fallen sons”. One of them said, “Our elders created Pakistan… now we are being treated with such cruelty.”
The women later tried to stage a sit-in but the police again stopped them from blocking the road.
Pakka Qila, built in the 18th century by a Kalhoro dynasty ruler, had been serving as the locus of MQM’s activities in Hyderabad for the past three decades.
The fort gained notoriety after the 1989 security operation during which, the MQM claims, many of its workers and supporters were killed.