By around 8pm on Tuesday, several hundred emotionally-charged workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had converged upon Numaish Chowrangi to show solidarity with their party chief, Altaf Hussain, who was arrested in London, earlier that day.
While the party's leaders sat cross-legged on the road, their solemn faces had a reflection of the gravity of the situation, the workers shouted slogans in support of their beloved leader. "Bhai ko bacha le aye Maula [Oh God! Save our brother]", "Deewanay kis kay, Quaid kay, hum bazoo kis kay, Quaid kay [Who is our dearest? Our leader.. Whose arms are we? Our leader's]" were some of the slogans that echoed from the frenzied crowd as men and women waved the party's red, white and green flags while others carried pictures of Hussain.
"We will keep sitting at Numaish Chowrangi until our leader, Altaf Hussain, speaks to us himself," Haider Abbas Rizvi had told workers at the party's headquarters, Nine Zero, earlier. The workers had poured into the offices in large numbers on hearing that Altaf had been arrested by the London Metropolitan Police on suspicion of money laundering.
Instead of their stronghold, the party decided to take their protest to Numaish, where shops had already been shut down and the roads cordoned off. Here, the party's deputy-convener, Nasir Jamal, and Rabita Committee member, Aminul Haque, were the first to arrive. They were soon followed by Dr Farooq Sattar, Sagheer Ahmed, Haider Abbas Rizvi and Waseem Akhtar, as activists slowly filled up the road.
'Arrest is unfair'
As party leaders and activists refrained from commenting on the issue, deeming it sensitive, Dr Farooq Sattar told The Express Tribune that the arrest was unfair and unusual. "If the London police wanted to question him, they would have come to us. Arresting him without any charges is unjust and unusual in the UK." The party leader said that Altaf was to be hospitalised on the day for a series of tests, and his health and safety were their main concern.
"We should get some response from the UK government," he stressed. Sattar said that they had provided proof of all legitimate sources of cash which was recovered by the police from their offices. "We have been cooperating with them and will continue to do so." Dr Sattar recalled the arrest of another leader, Tariq Mir, last December. He claimed that Mir was arrested on the occasion without any charges and was subsequently released on bail. "This is a repetition of the incident," he claimed. "But I don't know what other reasons the London Police may have for arresting him."
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2014.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ