KARACHI: As parts of the city erupted in aerial firing soon after the clock struck midnight on Tuesday and thousands of revellers came out onto the streets to celebrate the 71st anniversary of Pakistan, 26-year-old Sarmad Shabbir lost his life and at least 33 others were injured by stray bullets.
Shabbir lost his life when a firecracker hit his head during a fireworks show at North Nazimabad’s Five Star Chowrangi. His body was shifted to Abbasi Shaheed for autopsy. The youth, who was killed due to awry fireworks on the eve of Independence Day, had arrived from abroad on a holiday. He was set to leave in two days. The incident also injured another man who lost two of his fingers.
A resident of the SITE area’s New Labour Colony, Shabbir’s family told The Express Tribune that he was working at a private firm in Dubai.
“After completing his B Com from Karachi University, he had gone to Dubai on a visit visa,” Shabbir’s uncle said, adding that Shabbir came back to Pakistan as his visa had expired but he was scheduled to leave in two days on a company visa.
On the night of August 13, Shabbir and six of his friends went to Five Star Chowrangi to see the fireworks, his uncle said.
Shabbir’s friend, Faisal, said the group had reached a bridge of the Green Line bus project to see the display of fireworks. “After a few minutes of fireworks, a flying object hit Shabbir’s feet. When he reached down for inspection, it turned out to be a deadly cracker. His face was brutally torn apart,” he said. Meanwhile, 22-year old Salman Kachkol Khan got his arm fractured and two of his fingers were cut off.
The deceased and injured were rushed to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for medico-legal formalities and treatment respectively.
Meanwhile, 33 people, including six women were injured due to aerial firing in several parts of the city, including Nazimabad, Paposh Nagar, FC Area, Shershah, Lyari, Karimabad, Korangi, Abbas Town, Shah Faisal Colony, Malir, Landhi, Saeedabad and other areas.
Nine of the injured were shifted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital which included 45-year-old Iqbal, 50-year-old Sohail, 55-year-old Farooq, 22-year-old Sajjad, 42-year-old Abida, 40-year-old Sher Bazu, Younis, Urooj and Hassan.
Meanwhile, five people were shifted to the Civil hospital, namely, 35-year-old Muhammad Nawaz, 50-year-old Ashraf, 12-year-old Sameer, 18-year-old Abdul Wahid and seven-year-old Aqib.
As many as 15 people were shifted to Jinnah hospital, namely, 25-year-old Muhammad Hassan, 29-year-old Tooba Shakeel, 18-year-old Malahar, 55-year-old Muhammad Sohail, 22-year-old Mir Ali, 35-year-old Farmanullah, 11-year-old Suleman, 50-year-old Taj Bibi, 27-year-old Hassan, 43-year-old Tehmina, 55-year-old Feroze, 19-year-old Rizwan, 24-year-old Naseeb Khan, 26-year-old Waqqas and 30-year-old Asif.
Four more persons were injured due to aerial firing and were taken to Liaquat National Hospital. They were identified as 36-year-old Yousuf, 26-year-old Abdul Qadir, 22-year-old Raza and 25-year-old Ateeq.
Over the years, the trend of aerial firing on chand raats, New Year’s Eve, Independence Day and now Shab-e-Baarat has gotten stronger. Today, political activists and criminals also indulge in aerial firing to cause panic in localities, force shopkeepers to pull down their shutters and scare residents to stay indoors.
Cases of aerial firing can be registered under Section 337 (H) (II) of the Pakistan Penal Code for a negligent act of endangering lives, but with only three months imprisonment, and an undefined fine. In severe conditions, cases can also be registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Stuck in traffic
Meanwhile, Independence Day celebrations became a headache for commuters as most parts of the city experienced severe traffic jams.
Traffic flow was not smooth throughout the day as a large number of citizens came out on the roads to celebrate.
Citizens complained of faulty traffic signals and absence of traffic police personnel at various locations. The roads were crowded by youngsters dancing to national songs and doing stunts on their motorcycles, causing severe traffic jams.
Major areas in the city such as Sharae Faisal, Clifton and MA Jinnah Road experienced severe traffic jams.