Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has announced that he would observe a hunger strike till death as he “failed to get justice for Mohajirs and end exploitation against them”.
“I’ve been forced to take this extreme step because the federal and the provincial governments, army, Rangers, and police have started economic and racial persecution of Mohajirs with the help of black laws,” he said in a press statement on Sunday.
Party spokesperson Wasay Jalil told The Express Tribune by phone from London that they have chosen 10 Downing Street, the official residence of British Prime Minister David Cameron, as the venue for Altaf’s hunger strike.
According to him, they would start the process and inform the media as soon as they get permission from the British authorities for the hunger strike. Jalil said the party leaders would also fast if Altaf went ahead with his ‘extreme step’.
The MQM chief also asked the Rabita Committee to take charge of the party after his death. He said it was their decision whether to continue the movement or end it, advising them to remember the families of those workers who were imprisoned or those who have died.
Altaf said he would not bow before ‘oppressors and tyrants’ and would always struggle for the interests of the Urdu-speaking community. “Even today, Mohajirs are not being treated as equal citizens of the country,” he claimed.
Regarding the ongoing targeted operation in Karachi, the MQM chief claimed that over 4,000 workers of his party have been arrested. He further claimed that raids were conducted at thousands of homes, but there was no resistance from their side.
He questioned if any other political or religious party leaders were arrested, their headquarters raided or their workers became victims of extra-judicial killings. “Nothing can be more painful for Mohajirs as their patriotism is being questioned.”
Meanwhile, addressing a news conference Rabita Committee leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui requested Altaf to take back his decision, saying that his followers would be the first to go on hunger strike. The committee would decide whether to hold sit-ins or observe hunger strikes, he added.
To validate his detention, the Rangers have obtained a transit remand of top MQM leader Qamar Mansoor for allegedly ‘facilitating hate speeches against peace of Karachi’ on Sunday.
A judicial magistrate gave Mansoor’s physical custody to the Rangers till July 22 as the investigators submitted that the suspect would be presented before an anti-terrorism court (ATC) after the Eid holidays were over.
Mansoor, a Rabita Committee member, and his colleague Kaiful Wara were taken into custody by the paramilitary force in a late-night swoop at the party’s headquarters, Nine Zero, on July 17. However, the latter was released after a day on personal surety till Eid.
Hours after their arrest, the DG Rangers Maj-Gen Bilal Akbar in a tweet said: “Those apprehended tonight from Nine-Zero, have been arranging and facilitating hate speeches against peace of Karachi.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2015.