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Protest, clashes, traffic disruption over Nasla Tower demolition

Shelling, baton charge employed to dislodge demonstrators

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 26, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Posted: Nov 26, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago

Police fired tear gas shells and baton charged at protesters near the Nasla Tower on Friday afternoon shortly after the authorities deployed a heavy contingent of anti-riot and anti-encroachment personnel at the building.

The protest and rioting hampered traffic at the Sharae Faisal, where the demonstration started immediately before the evening rush hours and created traffic woes.

The protestors who fled to nearby streets to escape the police crackdown returned to the building after 5pm and clashed with the police.

Consequently, not only the Sharae Faisal clogged up but other roads in the surrounding areas experience traffic woes. Commuters returning to homes were stuck on the roads which began to clear after 8pm.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday ordered to demolish the Nasla Tower within seven days, rejecting a plea from the Karachi Commissioner who had sought 50 days period to raze the building.

The deployment was ordered after officials learnt of a possible protest from the residents of Nasla Tower and the Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD), which has announced that it is stopping all constructions projects in Karachi to protest the Nasla Tower demolition.

Women police officers were also deployed amid reports that women and children would participate in the protest.

Rangers personnel were also seen near the Nasla Tower where several police vans, buses and fork lifters dotted the scene.

Later, when the protesters gathered at the site, police used baton charge and tear gas to disperse them.

Protesters were seen running in the streets nearby with policemen chasing them.

The tear gas also affected houses in the locality and hampered road traffic on the Sharae Faisal. Karachi traffic police confirmed the issue in a tweet saying "There is a traffic flow [issue] at Main Shahrah-e-Faisal, FTC towards Nursery because of [a] public protest."

ABAD organises the protest

SAMAA TV reported that protesters began to gather near the Nasla Tower by 3m and their number grew over time. Police launched the baton charge and shelling around 4pm.

"The protesters have been dispersed from the Nasla Tower but they are still in the streets," SAMAA TV's Salman Ahmed reported from the spot at about 430pm.

The protesters, however, returned to the area and there were renewed clashes.

They also threatened to completely block the Sharae Faisal.

The second wave of clashes ended a few hours later and the police were able to clear the Shahrae Faisal. The adjoining roads, too, were cleared later.

Police used tear gas with greater force this time.

Officers were still deployed at the Nasla Tower on Friday night, asking any vehicle stopping near the building to leave immediately.

The protest was organised by the ABAD which tried to neutralize the Supreme Court orders, SAMAA TV's Salman Ahmed said.

ABAD Chairman Mohsin Sheikhani and other members accompanied the protesters to the Nasla Tower. They were reported to be in the area until late evening. ARY TV's Salman Iqbal also visited the site.

Nasla Tower is located at the intersection between Sharae Faisal and Shahrah-e-Quaideen. Traffic flow was blocked on both roads.

Rangers personnel were also deployed near the Nasla Tower. PHOTO Sohail Rab Khan
Rangers personnel were also deployed near the Nasla Tower. PHOTO Sohail Rab Khan

Nasla Tower was vacated by the residents last month after the Supreme Court ordered it to be demolished using controlled blast. However, experts later revealed that Pakistan lacked the technology to take down buildings using controlled implosions.

Eventually, Karachi Commissioner hired a local contractor and started the demolition process using manual labourers and machines. A hollowed-out structure stands out among other buildings alongside the Sharae Faisal since Thursday.

Video: Manual demolition of Karachi's Nasla Tower begins

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court found that the Nasla Tower had been constructed on encroached land.

The apex court rejected an appeal filed by the residents and the builder.

After several delays in the demolition, the court on Wednesday warned Karachi Commissioner Iqbal Memon that he could be held in contempt and sent to jail.

Consequently, later in the evening, bulldozers and cranes arrived at the site.

Police vans and fork-lifters were seen near the Nasla Tower on Friday afternoon. PHOTO Sohail Rab Khan
Police vans and fork-lifters were seen near the Nasla Tower on Friday afternoon. PHOTO Sohail Rab Khan

The task of manual demolition has been handed over to a contractor, selected by the Office of the Karachi Commissioner. A technical committee has been formed by the Sindh Building Control Authority to oversee the razing of the Nasla Tower.

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