–Police refuse to lodge complaint against attackers
–PTM announces countrywide protests if FIR not registered
LAHORE: At least eight people including 4 Pasthuns were injured in a ‘clash’ between the residents of the Township locality of the provincial capital and Pashtun traders over a petty dispute being termed as an incident of “racial profiling”.
As per the details, it all started after a Pashtun youth allegedly “sold cigarettes at a higher price” to a man in the Township Main Market on Thursday night. The incident led to a fiery exchange of words following which the 15-year-old shopkeeper was subjected to assault that left him severely injured.
According to the accounts of the witnesses, other traders of the market – having a Pashtun majority – stepped in to save the boy and it wasn’t later that the men started beating them up as well.
“Moments later an announcement, made from a nearby mosque, asked all the residents to gather and ‘teach the Pashtuns a lesson’,” Farman, who runs a tuck shop in the said market, claimed while speaking to Pakistan Today. He said that all Pashtun traders, including him, then shut down their shops and fled in a bid to save themselves from the attackers whom they feared to be armed.
“We are facing a loss of thousands of rupees every day and that too in Ramzan as none of us is daring to go back and continue our business activities,” he added.
Another shopkeeper informed this scribe that the attackers had caused the Pashtuns a loss of millions of rupees in property damages as they had not only wrecked their shops but also stolen valuables and other items from the stores.
Raza Wazir, a human rights activist advocating for the rights of Pashtuns said the incident was a clear case of “racial profiling”.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, he said that it was not the first of its kind as several other incidents occurred every other day against Pashtuns living in the province and other parts of the country. He said that they had approached the local police station several times but the police were reluctant to register the First Information Report (FIR) of the incident.
“On the other hand, an FIR has already been registered against Pashtuns by the Township police,” he said and added that at least six individuals were named in the FIR while a complaint against more than a hundred unidentified Pashtuns had also been registered.
He went on to say that if the police, while sticking to its biased behaviour, did not register a complaint against the attackers and did not help the Pashtun traders to continue their business activities in the market peacefully, a sit-in would be demonstrated outside the Lahore Press Club on Sunday (today) till their demands were met.
Meanwhile, Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen also demanded from the authorities concerned to take a strict action against the attackers. In a video message, Manzoor announced to hold countrywide protests if the demands of the Pashtun traders were not met and the attackers were not brought to justice.
When Pakistan Today contacted Station House Officer (SHO) of the Township Police Station, he refused to comment on the issue, while police spokesperson Hammad Raza, on the other hand, pleaded ignorance.