Activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) ransacked a private television station before clashing with police Monday evening, leaving at least one person dead and over half a dozen injured. The rioting drew widespread condemnation from all political parties and prompted action by the paramilitary Rangers. At least nine MQM leaders, including Dr Farooq Sattar, were detained while the party’s headquarters, Nine Zero, were also searched and subsequently sealed.
The violence erupted shortly after MQM chief Altaf Hussain gave a phone address to his supporters in which he castigated the media for not giving expected coverage of his workers and allegedly increased anti-Pakistan slogans.
MQM activists, who had just stopped a week-long hunger strike outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) over a government crackdown against them, stormed the ARY News offices after their party leader’s address from London.
Television footage showed dozens of women and men smashing equipment, windows and doors with batons and poles, barging into ARY’s office and setting fire to several vehicles. Footage also showed shards flung on to the ground and littering the TV and floor displays ripped off the walls.
“MQM workers ransacked the premises and fired at the ARY offices,” said SSP Saqib Ismail Memon said, adding that they had been incited by their leader”. “ We have carried out teargas shelling to disperse the mob,” he added.
Staffers of Neo TV station, whose offices are located in precisely the same building as ARY, were also beaten up. Apparently, protesters also besieged the offices of Samaa TV which are situated on the nearby II Chundrigar Road.
On the roads, MQM activists also clashed with police who attempted to stop them, starting volleys of gunshots and tear gas in several locations across the city, authorities and witnesses said. At least three police officers were pelted with rocks or were beaten up by protesters.