KARACHI: Legislators and activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement began observing a hunger strike unto death outside the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday to protest against the alleged “atrocities and injustices” committed against the party over the past three years on the pretext of an operation against criminals in Karachi.

The protest started under the leadership of Aslam Afirdi, a member of the MQM’s coordination committee, and members of the National Assembly and the Sindh Assembly belonging to the opposition party are among the hunger strikers.

The fast-unto-death was announced by Dr Farooq Sattar, senior deputy convener of the coordination committee, and deputy convener Amir Khan at a press conference held at Khursheed Memorial Hall in Azizabad.

Sattar cited various reasons, including the alleged economic murder of Mohajir youths, violations of human rights, torture on Muttahdia activists, illegal raids and detentions by law enforcers, for the decision to begin the hunger strike.

He said Mohajir workers were being arrested from their houses and offices and thousands of workers were missing.  He accused law enforcement  agencies of adopting a humiliating attitude towards workers and supporters of the party.

Gross human right violations were being committed in various parts of the city, he added. He had earlier said that Urdu-speaking people were being victimised.

The MQM has been protesting against the paramilitary Rangers for committing what it calls “excesses” and “injustices’ against its workers and leaders and has called upon the federal government and the army chief to intervene and do justice. It recently staged a token hunger strike against illegal detentions of its workers.

The party has also termed the arrest of its Karachi mayoral candidate, Waseem Akhtar, illegal and unconstitutional. The MQM has been demanding of the law enforcement agencies to stop conducting illegal raids to arrest its workers, and warned them not to push it to the wall “before it is too late”.

Earlier, a statement, issued after Amir Khan presided over an emergency meeting at the his party’s headquarters, Nine Zero, said the government and the opposition had turned a deaf ear to Mohajirs’ issues and sufferings. The meeting observed that raids and arrests by Rangers, police and other law enforcement agencies had become a routine. Khan said the rights of Mohajirs were being violated by “some conspiring elements among the authorities”.