Party sets up a camp outside Karachi Press Club with more leaders joining hunger strike
Published: 19:13 August 18, 2016
Mohammad Ashraf, Correspondent
Karachi: More leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Thursday joined their six colleagues in observing a hunger strike unto death to register their protest against the pitiable plight of the Mohajir community.
The party set up a camp outside the Karachi Press Club with at least six of its leaders from the central executive committee and hundreds of supporters to begin the indefinite hunger strike to press their many demands, which the party says, have received scant attention from the government and other state institutions.
“Our hunger strike unto death is against the unending economic, social, and educational genocide of the Mohajir [migrants],” Aminul Haq, a senior party leader, told Gulf News on the sidelines of the camp highlighting the plight of migrants who fled to the country during the partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947.
“We are being pushed towards the wall socially and politically,” he said.
The party has traditionally held sway in Hyderabad and other urban areas of the southern Sindh province but has been hit hard amid operations by law enforcement agencies andpolitical adversaries of late.
The MQM claims that the paramilitary Rangers, who have been at the vanguard of the operation, have been violating human rights while carrying out raids on party offices and arresting thousands of workers.
Haq said that 121 MQM party workers had gone missing after being allegedly picked up by the Rangers, police and plainclothed officials since September 2013. He added that about 5,500 party workers and supporters had been arrested by law enforcement agencies, of whom more than 1,200 were languishing in jails without any legal proceedings.
The gravest charge the MQM levels against law enforcement is of extra-judicial killings of party workers.
The party claims that 61 of its workers have been killed by law enforcement agencies in past three years.
Altaf Hussain, the party supremo, who has been living in self-imposed exile in London for the past several decades, was also barred from appearing in the print and electronic media.
Addressing those at the hunger strike camp on Wednesday evening, Hussain in a telephonic address, lashed out at the Rangers and police for becoming party to a campaign against the MQM.
Hussain alleged that the Rangers had stormed an MQM office, arresting and torturing party workers holding a ‘Quran Khawni’ session, or Quran recitation. He also expressed fears that the arrested workers could end up as victims in extra-judicial killings.
Hussain averred that the Rangers were deliberately trying to create fear and panic among residents of Karachi to influence the mayoral election.