Rumour about Dr Magsi’s killing: Panicky shopkeepers pull down shutters across province
HYDERABAD: Panic and fear gripped the interior of Sindh as rumour that Sindh Taraqqi Pasand Party chairman Dr. Qadir Magsi had been killed by police in Karachi spread like wildfire and brought normal life to a grinding halt in all districts and towns of the province on Wednesday.
Without so much as confirming the rumour, the jittery shopkeepers were seen pulling down shutters within a matter of minutes and rushing to the safety of their homes.
The rumour caused stampede at a number of places.
Police resorted to tear-gas shelling and aerial firing to stop STP activists when they tried to leave for Karachi.
A sizable contingent of police blocked a number of buses with STP workers onboard. Police impounded the buses, detained drivers and took away keys of the vehicles.
Over 100 STP activists started marching towards the by-pass after the buses were impounded and staged a sit-in. They pelted passing vehicles with stones, smashing windowpanes and suspended vehicular traffic bound for Karachi and interior Sindh.
A heavy contingent of anti-riot police arrived there and resorted to tear-gas shelling and aerial firing, forcing the protesters to flee. Police, however, arrested dozens of protesters including women and some underage boys.
“We had orders from the government since protesters planned to lay siege to Chief Minister’s House therefore they should be stopped in their areas from heading towards Karachi. Then the protesters broke the law and police had to take action,” said a police official on request of anonymity.
“We were leaving in 12 buses when police blocked our way. Around 150 of us including women wing leader Sahar Rizvi and a pregnant activist have been arrested but doctor sahib (Dr. Qadir Magsi) managed to reach Karachi safely in the morning to lead the sit-in,” STP spokesman told Dawn over phone from Bhittai Nagar police station.
STP secretary general Dr. Hameed Memon claimed that three activists of STP were killed when police opened fire on them at the Northern by-pass off Super Highway.
According to police sources around 45 or 50 were still in custody.
PANIC: The otherwise normal civic life came to sudden halt in the city and its outskirts over rumours that Dr. Qadir Magsi had lost his life during protest in Karachi.
Harassed shopkeepers were seen closing their business. As the rumours gained currency, some miscreants resorted to aerial firing in Hyder Bux Jatoi roundabout area, leading to stampede. Transporters immediately closed their stands in anticipation of riots and kept them off the roads.
Roads wore a deserted look after private transport disappeared and commuters were seen clinging to the available transport like Suzuki pick-ups to reach their destinations.
Police along with Rangers conducted flag march in the evening on deserted roads. Similar reports were received from Tando Allahyar, Tando Mohammad Khan, Matiari and Jamshoro.
In Dadu, all bazaars and shopping centres were closed after the news about killing of STP workers in Karachi. Partial strike was observed in Johi and Sehwan and transport remained thin on the roads.
Loonikot police arrested STP leader Ms Sahar Rizvi along with 60 female activists when they were going to Karachi.
Ms Sahar told Dawn on cell-phone that police used batons and lobbed tear gas shells on women and shoved all women activists into the Loonikot police station.
In Sanghar, Khairpur, Shikarpur, Nawabshah, Mithi, Umerkot, Kunri, Samaro, Pithoro, Dhoronaro, Mirpurkhas, Badin, Larkana, Qambar, Shahdadkot, Thatta, Sukkur Rohri, Salehpat, Ali Wahan, Pano Akil, Ghotki, Mirpur Mathelo and Thull shopkeepers pulled down shutters and rushed to their homes as soon as they heard rumours about death of Dr Qadir Magsi.
The roads wore a deserted look and heavy contingents of police and Rangers were deployed in different parts of the districts and towns to face any untoward situation.
In many places, angry STP activists took to the streets after hearing the rumour and resorted to aerial firing to force the shopkeepers to pull down shutters.