KARACHI, Dec 15: The sit-in organised by Shia organisations at the Numaish traffic intersection on Friday against frequent sectarian killings continued for more than 24 hours as the protesters, including women and children, remained undeterred despite chilly weather and gunfire in the early hours.
Seeking an ‘army operation’ in Karachi against banned outfits, the protesters said the political and security administration had failed to come up with credible measures despite repeated promises.
The weather turned cold as the mercury further dropped during the night, but the sit-in continued till 4:30am when the locality reverberated with gunfire causing panic and compelling people to take cover.
“The exact motive for and people behind the firing incident are not yet clear,” said a senior police officer. He added that strict security measures at the protest venue were in place. “The firing caused fear for a while but protesters returned within a few minutes after the incident,” the officer said.
Leaders and participants in the sit-in jointly organised by Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM), Jafria Alliance, Shia Ulema Council, Shia Action Committee, Imamia Students Organisation and Jafria Students Organisation demanded that the authorities take concrete steps to address their concerns otherwise the protest would continue.
“If someone is really concerned about our security and the tragedy we are facing, it must be reflected by their moves,” said Maulana Nazir Taqi, a senior MWM leader.
“But unfortunately the presence of hundreds of women and children in cold weather has not moved the authorities to take action. These protesters want peace, not violence or bloodshed. So the sit-in is the only option left to convey our concerns.”
An MWM spokesman said that the Karachi commissioner, who had arrived at the protest venue on Saturday evening, left without talks, because the protesters made it clear that they would hold talks only with a federal government representative or the chief minister of Sindh.
Strict security measures were in place as the movement of vehicles was not allowed near the protest venue. The police blocked main M.A. Jinnah Road and roads leading to the Numaish traffic intersection. Traffic policemen requested motorists to take alternative routes to reach their destinations.