A man died and another sustained bullet wounds when police opened fire at an unruly mob protesting registration of a case against an activist of an opposition party in Bhimbher district of Azad Kashmir on Tuesday.
The police used baton, fired teargas shells and gunshots in the air to disperse the protesters, mostly workers of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), who stormed the district courts complex. The PML-N worker had been booked allegedly by ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) activist Chaudhry Anwarul Haq, police and witnesses said.
Bhimbher Deputy Commissioner (DC) Khawaja Muhammad Naeem said the police resorted to firing live ammunition after some of the protesters fired gunshots at the police. In the shootout, a protester identified as Abdul Hamid, a resident of Sokasen village, died of bullet wounds and Muhammad Akram, a resident of Pitho Rani, was injured.
The injured was admitted in district headquarters hospital where doctors said his condition is out of danger.
Naeem said the autopsy report will establish whether he died of the bullet fired by the police or the protesters. He said that a case has been registered against the protesters and those who ransacked and damaged official buildings would be brought to book.
The DC said the protesters entered the district courts premises in the morning after breaking its gates and attacked the offices. He said the protesters, most of whom were carrying sticks, pelted stones at the buildings, breaking window panes.
The protesters accused a member of the ruling PPP Chaudhry Anwarul Haq for implicating a PML-N worker, Liaqat, in a false case in connivance with the police. The case was registered after Liaqat allegedly beat up Muhammad Ashraf, a member of the PPP in Pindi Jhoonja village.
Meanwhile, Deputy Opposition Leader of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly Chaudhry Tariq Farooq rubbished the DC’s claim. He said his party workers were holding a peaceful protest until the police fired tear-gas shells and gunshots at them.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2012.
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