MITHI: Speakers at a seminar on rising incidents of suicide in Thar have warned that the dismal trend has assumed alarming proportions because of a number of reasons and foremost among them are; prolonged drought spell that exacerbated already depressing conditions of the poor, displacement of poor families, use of drugs, sexual harassment through social media and domestic violence.
Additional Inspector General of Police Dr Waliullah Dal said at the moot, which was organised by police in collaboration with local NGOs at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Cultural Complex here on Thursday, that police officials should take punitive action against those who were found involved in social media abuse, which was one of the prime factors behind suicides among women, girls and youngsters.
He urged police officials to adopt people-friendly attitude and make concerted efforts to discourage the trend to save precious lives. He was shocked to learn that the depressing trend had assumed alarming proportions in the desert district and directed police officials to seek help of area people, mental health experts and psychologists to help make Thar a suicide-free region, he said.
Saqib Ismail Memon, DIG of Mirpurkhas, said that over 198 cases of suicide were reported during 2018 from three districts of the region in which an equal number of people attempted to end their lives.
It was need of the hour to tackle the problem on a war footing, he said and asked local police officials to investigate each case thoroughly and find out real causes behind suicides.
Thar DC Dr Shahzad Tahir Thaheem said that district government was set to establish a 10-bed unit in Mithi Civil Hospital to handle suicide cases on scientific lines under the supervision of a psychiatrist.
Dr Allah Nawaz Samoo, chief executive officer of Thardeep Rural Development Programme, said that there were a number of factors behind the unabated incidents of suicide and they included domestic violence on married women by their family members.
“It is very difficult to even think of taking one’s own life but when people are not accorded the respect they deserve and they are repeatedly humiliated they start to believe they are better dead than living,” he said and requested the participants to work on changing mindset and behaviour towards those who lagged behind them in life for any reason.
He stressed the need for thoroughly examining the circumstances, which often forced people to commit suicide. Migration of Tharis from villages to towns had also badly disturbed balance in Thar’s society, he said.
Advocate Kashif Bajeer and Abdul Wahid Sangrasi, officials of Civil Society Support Programme, said that 376 people had committed suicide since 2014 to this month in Thar, which was a matter of great concern for Thar as well as for the country.
They claimed that a large number of suicide cases went unreported and requested police to set up human rights cells with special desk to assess and investigate each case of suicide.
They said that Thar region suffered drought every three years which had increased poverty and had had negative impact on the lives of Tharis. At preliminary stage, every suicide case should be treated as a murder case and properly investigated from all angles, they said.
They said the situation could improve only after female literacy rate rose in the region, which was at its lowest rate of mere seven per cent in the district.
Poet and women’s rights activist Apa Kamla Poonam said that it was time women were given their rights and freedom and they were included in decision making for the future of children. “Empowered and educated mothers are real force to help fight such evil trends in the desert region,” she added.
Thar SSP Abdullah Ahmedyar said that a focal person had already been deputed in the district to investigate suicide cases and asked people to apprise him of all the factors, which were forcing people to take the extreme step.
He said that a massive crackdown was under way against those involved in making and selling home-made liquor and those involved in harassing vulnerable people through social media.
Anwar Sehar, Dr Sheeraz, Dr Bharat Kumar, Abdul Sattar Samoon and others also spoke at the moot and highlighted the factors behind suicide and other evil trends in society, particularly in Thar.
Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2019