KARACHI - Workers of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) clashed with each other during a protest against illegal construction of a security wall surrounding the Bilawal House here on Sunday.

The workers from both parties freely used sticks and pelted stones on each other during the clash. Police used tear gas and baton-charged the workers from both parties and dispersed them. Several workers of both parties sustained injuries.

PTI leaders including MPAs and workers carrying party flags and banners had gathered at Boat Basin to protest the security wall constructed around Bilawal House. They were chanting slogans against Sindh government demanding removal of the illegal establishment of barricades around Bilawal House.

PTI MPA Khurram Sher Zaman told media men that wall was illegal and creating troubles for the commuters and residents of Clifton. “Former president Aisf Ali Zardari is not in his office and the wall should be removed and the road should be opened for public,” he said. “I will be protesting on roads whenever there is injustice in my constituency,” Zaman added.

As Zaman finished his talks with media men PPP supporters rushed to the PTI protesters and asked them to leave. Activists from both sides started chanting slogans against each other.

In the meanwhile, Sharmila Farooqui and PPP’s Karachi Division President Abdul Qadir Patel arrived at the scene. On this occasion, Sharmila delivered a fiery speech and said, “People’s Party’s Jiyalas will safeguard Bilawal House and the workers will not let the miscreants escape”.

Sharmila’s sppech added fuel to the fire and soon the area became a battlefield. Workers from both parties freely used sticks on each other and threw stones that damaged the vehicles parked nearby. Police, in order to maintain law and order, teargased and baton-charged the protesters. Police also arrested many of the protesters.

PTI leaders including party’s Sindh chief Nadir Akmal Khan Leghari, Arif Alvi, Asad Umar and Subhan Ali Sahil, after the incident, held a press conference outside the Frere Police Station and demanded Sindh government to immediately release the PTI activists arrested during the clash.

PTI Member National Assembly Arif Alvi blamed provincial government for torturing and arresting the PTI protesters. He said PTI workers and supporters had gathered to register their peaceful protest but the government used police against the peaceful protesters. He added that “I was also baton-charged by police when I arrived to join protest”. Alvi condemned silence of the police and Rangers during PPP attack on the protest.  “Protests will continue till opening of both sides of the road for general public,” he added.

ALvi said main barricades near Bilawal House were adversely affecting the business activities in the area while residents were also voicing their concern against the illegal establishment of barricades. He said court had also ordered for the removal of the barricades outside Bilawal House.

Talking to media men Sharmila said PPP would not tolerate any protest that had been planned to destroy the private property.

PPP’s Qadir Patel blamed Arif Alvi for the whole incident and termed PTI’s protest an attempt to divert the attention of masses from local bodies’ elections. He said protecting residence of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was the duty of every Jiyala. Pointing out toward PPP workers present on the scene Patel added these PPP Jiyalas themselves would turn into a protection wall for security of the beloved leader’s house.

Deputy Commissioner South Mustafa Jamal Qazi talking to media claimed that they had asked the PTI leader Arif Alvi to cancel the protest as one side of the Bilawal House wall was opened and the issue was addressed but the protest was not called off due to which the scuffle broke out.  “Bilawal House is a high value target and its protection is our responsibility.” He added that police resorted to teargas and batten charge when the protesters became violent and started damaging public property. “People from both sides have been taken into custody,” he claimed.

Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon and PPP deputy sectary information, terming the PTI Karachi protest an offense, said PTI was setting a wrong tradition in politics.

In a statement here on Sunday, Memon said Bilawal House road was blocked over the security reasons. Memon alleged Dr Arif Alvi and other PTI workers for Sunday’s violence and said Alvi wanted to initiate battle between workers of both parties.  Reacting against the incident, PPP’s Patron-in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said everyone had the right to hold peaceful protests but he didn’t support violence. In a statement here on Sunday, he said PTI should not have allowed its workers to bring weapons with them.

“Imran Khan is in a habit of distracting the country every time, we are about to have a national conversation on TTP. When I talked about TTP on Dec 27, instead of revisiting his appeasement policy, Imran tried to distract people by talking about Bilawal House wall.” Bilawal said, “We demand the senior politicians to talk about the real threat to our country’s future. The terrorists are killing innocent civilians, political leaders and Pakistan army personnel.” PPP leader said, “If PTI changes its stance on TTP, PPP and PTI can work together. In free and fair elections the only possible legitimate national mandate is a coalition government. However, PTI’s appeasement and excuses for the TTP who assassinated my mother and killed my brothers is the only thing standing in our way,” he added.