MITHI: A complete shutdown was observed in Islamkot town on Tuesday on a call given by the local traders’ association, Thar Sujag Forum and other organisations against what they regarded as ‘selective’ anti-encroachment drive in several towns of Tharparkar district.

All shops, markets and business centres in Islamkot remained closed from dawn to dusk. A large number of the people took part in a rally organised by the organisations and held a demonstration at a section of Mithi-Nagaprkar bypass road to register their protest.

While leaders of the rally were speaking to the media, personnel of the anti-encroachment cell resorted to baton charging them in their attempt to disperse them. Many protesters and at least three local reporters sustained injuries in the action.

The situation turned tense when members of civil society from other areas rushed to the spot and joined in the protest.

It was learnt that Sindh Information Minster Murtaza Wahab took notice of the action upon receiving the news and directed Thar SSP Imran Quraishi to proceed to Islamkot and initiate an inquiry into the matter.

The minister was quoted as saying that those invloved in the ugly incident would be brought to the book.

The SSP along with Thar DC Asif Jameel Shaikh visited the injured people and assured the reporters that appropriate action would be taken against those responsible for the violent act.

Advocate Mustafa Hingorjo, Advocate Munawwar Saghir, Mohammad Asharaf Samoon. Aakil Shah and others later held a press conference to condemn the action against peaceful protesters.

They also deplored that several hundred structures were demolished in the name of encroachment and they included houses in Mithi, Chelhar and Islamkot towns.

They warned of an extended campaign by giving a call for shutdown in all small and big towns of Tharparkar if the ruthless operation was not stopped.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders, including Shusheel Malani, and Comrade Nandlal Malhi, Qaumi Awami Tehreek (QAT) leader Advocate Shahnawaz Hingorjo and others issued statements to condemn the operation and action against protesters and media personnel.

Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2018