Violent mobs rule Peshawar
By: Ali Hazrat Bacha
PESHAWAR: Life in the provincial capital was paralysed by riots, the worst of its kind in decades, on Friday after people protesting the production of an anti-Islam film in the US went on the rampage.
Protesters emerged on the streets early in the morning and stayed put until late in the day. Police made elaborate security arrangements to stop people from going to sensitive places. Some protesters exchanged fire with police in an apparent bid to sabotage the latter’s security plan.
According to spokesman Jamil Shah, Lady Reading Hospital received five bodies, including that of ARY TV driver Mohammad Amir, and more than 50 injured people, including 11 policemen and DSP Faqirabad area.
One body and 16 injured were taken to Khyber Teaching Hospital.
“We have shifted 14 injured people from Saddar Bazaar to hospitals and 14 from University Road and four policemen from Tehkal area,” said a spokesman for Edhi Foundation.
Police said ARY TV driver Mohammad Amir, a resident of Gari Khana area, had suffered injuries by three bullets as he accompanied his TV channel team for covering protests outside Shama Cinema.
They said the driver succumbed to critical wounds at Lady Reading Hospital. According to them, the rest of the dead people were Kamran of Nawikili, Rifaqat of Bala Mani, Asif and Usman of Bara Gate, and Habibullah of Beri Bagh.
Police said protesters set on fire public and private properties, including telephone cabinets, damaged fire tenders, hoarders, and shattered shutters of shops in different areas and tried to take away valuables. They said the emotionally-charged protesters ransacked a number of commercial plazas by University Road and looted a commercial bank’s branch before setting it on fire.
According to them, protesters also damaged a KFC outlet and private cellular company offices on University Road. Protesters tried to put a local cinema on fire in Hashtnagri area prompting police to resort to fire tear gas shells on them besides firing gunshots in the air to disperse them.
The mob also burned old tyres on the roads shouting anti-US slogans. Most of the city roads, including Sher Shah Suri Road, Khyber Road and Jamrud Road, were blocked by large containers and blocks.
However, Shuba Bazaar Road remained opened.
The call for strike was given by various groups of traders, transporters, political parties and students. The main processions were taken out from Chowk Yadgar, Peshtakhara, Tehkal and Arbab Landi areas after Friday prayers. They had already announced to besiege the US consulate.
Protesters, who succeeded to reach Stadium Chowk, marched towards the consulate but couldn’t reach there due to road blockades. According to capital city police officer Imtiaz Altaf, the injured included 18 policemen and five of them received bullet injuries.
He said leaders of political, religious and other groups had given a strike call but they disappeared when the mob emerged on the streets.
“Such protesters were a surprise for me as I have never people, who stepped out to protest against an anti-Islam film but destroyed public and private properties,” he said, adding that destruction of parks, shops and cinemas was unwarranted.
“Yes, we will take action against all those who incited people to violence,” he said. he, however, said FIRs had yet not been registered in this respect.
About the killing of the ARY driver, he said judicial inquiry into the case had already been ordered and the prime suspect would be identified in the inquiry. In Mansehra, rallies were taken out from mosques after Friday prayers.
Protesters shouted slogans against the US and demanded public hanging of the maker of the sacrilegious film. They blocked roads suspending traffic for long hours. Women, too, staged a rally in the city. They marched on the main Ghazikot Township road holding placards and banners.
Educationist Salma Tabbasum led protesters, including some wheelchair users.
In Kohat, people from all violent mobs rule Peshawar segments of society demonstrated after Friday prayers against the production of the sacrilegious film. They demanded expulsion of the US ambassador. A rally was taken out by Khatme Nabuat Conference from Tehsil Gate to Saad Shaheed Park, while others were staged in Lachi, Shakardarra, Bilitang, Gumbat and Sherkot areas.
In Chitral, a procession was taken out from Shahi Masjid to Parade Ground.
The rally was attended among others by Chitral DCO Rehmatullah Wazir, former district nazim Maghfirat Shah, Seerat Council chairman Hafiz Nooruddin and JUI-F leader Abdul Jalil Jan.
In all parts of Lower Dir district, including Timergara, traders observed shutter down strike.
No violence was reported in the day.
Residents of Chakdara, Talash, Timergara, Rabat, Samar Bagh, Khall, Munda and Maidan staged rallies against the anti-Islam film. In Abbottabad, Galayat, Havelian and Haripur, too, people protested the making of the sacrilegious film. Markets were closed, while public transport remained off the roads.
Protesters blocked the main Karakoram Highway in Haripur and Havelian throughout the day.
In all parts of Swat district, a complete shutter down and wheel jam strike was observed to protest against the anti-Islam film.
Rallies were also organised after Friday prayers in Mingora city, Madyan, Mianadam, Khawazakhela, Matta, Kabal, Saidu Sharif, Amankot, Barikot and Charbagh. Protesters shouted anti-US slogans holding placards and banners against the anti-Islam film.In Tank, a number of small and big processions were taken out from various mosques in Tank city after Friday prayers to protest against the making of anti-Islam film.
In all parts of Malakand, including Batkhela, routine life remained suspended as rallies were taken out on Friday.
In Buner, Muslims and members of religious minorities took to the streets after Friday prayers shouting slogans against the government and the US president to protest the blasphemous film. Processions were taken out in Pir Baba, Swari, Jowar Chowk, Bazaar Torwarsak, Dewana Baba, Chinglai, Totalai, Jangai, Ambela, Nagrai, Topi and Gulbandi.
All bazaars remained closed and traffic was taken off the roads. The people of religious minorities also participated in the rallies. In Swabi, all political parties, welfare bodies, business community and people of all walks of life staged a demonstration against the anti-Islam film in Karnal Sher Khan Chowk.
Bazaars in all four tehsils and district headquarters of Swabi remained closed, while no transport plied the roads. In Karak city, Terri and Gurguri areas, political and religious parties, and traders took out rallies against the anti-Islam film and burned effigies of the US president and US flags.
Members of Christian community also took out a rally to express solidarity with Muslims over the sac religious film. Bazaars remained closed across the district. In different parts of Lakki Marwat district, activists of political, social and trade organisations staged demonstrations to protest the production of anti-Islam film.
In Nowshera, a complete shutter down strike was observed on Friday.
Different groups staged rallies on GT Road blocking traffic for hours. Protests were also seen in Nowshera cantonment, Nowshera Kalan, Pabbi, Akora Khattak, Jehangira, Rashakai, Taru Jabba, Khairabad and other areas.
In Parachinar and other parts of Kurram Agency, a complete shutter down strike was observed on Friday. Workers of political parties, welfare organisations and rights groups took out processions to condemn the production of the anti-Islam film, saying it spread hatred against Islam.
In Ghalanai and other parts of Mohmand Agency, demonstrations were staged against the anti-Islam film. People from all segments of society joined rallies. They shouted slogans against the US. In Bajaur Agency, including its major town of Khar, too, all bazaars remained closed as a protest against the blasphemous film.