ISLAMABAD: The slums dwellers on Wednesday held a protest outside the National Press Club aimed at preempting another round of operation against illegal settlements which is expected to start from Thursday.
In the last nine days, the Enforcement Department of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has been consistent in its operation against the encroachments.
During the period, it razed some big and small illegal settlements in H-10/I-10, G-10/2 and I-10/1 in collaboration with the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICT).
Even on Wednesday, the enforcement teams of the CDA demolished a wall raised on the government land in I-9 sector. Another team removed illegal khokhas in I-11 while a third team confiscated pushcarts hindering traffic near Polyclinic.
“But we are planning another full-blown operation cleanup on Thursday or Friday,” said Mohammad Iqbal, director enforcement, but declined to disclose the nature and area where the operation would be carried out.
The Wednesday’s protest was organised by All Pakistan Alliance for Katchi Abadis and attended by the people from both Christian and Muslim communities.
Addressing on the occasion, speakers, including the members from civil society, decried the CDA and other relevant authorities for turning a blind eye to what they said encroachments by the government departments and seminaries.
The protesters were carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against the operation and chanted slogans against the CDA and the federal government.
The speakers said the CDA, instead of providing low cost houses to the poor of the Katchi Abadies, was out to snatch shelter from them.
“The democratic norms are not only for the rich, but they are for the poor as well,” said Aasim Sajjad, president Awami Workers Party, Punjab.
“The residents of the Katchi Abadis in Islamabad have been protesting peacefully for over two months but none of the authorities is even willing to listen to them,” he added.
The speakers said that in a country where negotiations can be held with militants who have been killing innocent people for years, why do the ruling class refuse to acknowledge the rights of Katchi Abadi dwellers whose only crime is that they do not have the means to live somewhere else.
Speaking on the occasion former federal minister J. Salik said that Pakistans rulers had been playing cat-and-mouse with Katchi Abadi residents for decades.