KARACHI - Over a dozen people got injured and four oil tankers were set afire when a protest by the All-Pakistan Oil Tankers Owners' Association (APOTOA) turned violent in the limits of the Bin Qasim Police Station on Friday. The demonstration was staged in protest over the award of edible oil transportation contract to private contractors.

The protesting APOTOA activists, who parked their oil tankers on National Highway blocking every kind of vehicular movement, alleged that the government granted the contract to private contractors to earn undue gains.

Bakhtawar, chairman of the APOTOA, threatened that they would not call off their protest unless the authorities withdrew their decision. He termed it as an economic murder of the oil tankers.

Meanwhile, unidentified arsonists, emerging from the demonstrators, set fire to four oil tankers that sparked a five-hour armed clash between the APOTOA members and their rival group, leaving eight persons wounded.  Following the incident, a heavy contingent of police and rangers rushed to the spot and tried to disperse the protesters by using batons and firing teargas shells. Later, four more people, including a technician of a private TV channel, namely Asif, also sustained wounds. Nevertheless, Deputy Commissioner Shaukat reached the site to resolve the matter but failed doing so.

The protest caused a massive gridlock on the National Highway for five hours.

According to SP Riaz, the APOTOA members staged the protest to express resentment over the award of the contract to the other party. He said that no-one was arrested.  Meanwhile, SHO Bin Qasim Hazoor Bux confirmed that four oil tankers were torched and one of them was completely damaged while the rest partly.