Mobs coordinate over cellphones
KARACHI: A man in his thirties, in a brown shalwar kameez, was standing next to Denso Hall on MA Jinnah Road. He was ever ready to spring into action. As he saw the police coming he held up his palm towards the back of the alley as he spoke to someone else on his cell phone in rapid fire Urdu.
Why don’t you shout any slogans, he was egged on. “The time for slogans has passed,” he snapped. “This is the work of the gun. My only regret is that we don’t have the latest weapons.”
This man was one of many who came out of nowhere on Wednesday to riot and set vehicles on fire. Most of the cars were set on fire with the help of chemicals and not the usual Samad Bond and petrol. Chief Fire Officer Ehtishamuddin Siddiqui said that bottles filled with the stuff were smashed into the cars.
Dr Iqbal Choudhry of the International Center for Chemistry and Biological Sciences of University of Karachi and Professor Fahimuddin, the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences and Chemistry, both said that the lightweight Benzene is hundreds of times more flammables than petrol and is cheaply available in the city. Plus, if you take benzene and keep it in hot weather it catches fire even faster. The CFO said that he believed Benzene could have been used.
Rioters who did not have chemicals or petrol instead used bricks and stones. One man was standing with a brick in his hand trying to damage a parked car outside a residential building near the city courts. No one tried to immediately stop him but a few people tried to dissuade him. The car’s owner appeared in the balcony and pleaded: “Please do not damage it, I am coming!” he cried. “I will park it in another place.” A short while later a crowd gathered around eventually the man walked away. But with the brick.
The CFO said that in future the fire fighters would need protection as well. “I was there for the Tahir Plaza fire. I immediately called the fire tenders from the nearest fire station but the mob attacked them twice.”
A hand-out was issued from the Central Police Office Wednesday evening saying that IGP Azhar Ali Farooqui had “taken strict notice of the rioting” and patrolling would be increased. The police were ordered to immediately arrest anyone making trouble.