KARACHI: Following a protest by Defence Housing Authority (DHA) residents whose houses were flooded after rains, police registered a criminal case against around two dozen protesters on a complaint of the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) on Wednesday.

On Monday, angry residents — many with inundated homes and no electricity for days — staged a protest demonstration outside the CBC office and demanded waiver of property tax and a forensic audit of DHA and CBC accounts.

Twenty-two protesters have been booked in the FIR for raising slogans against state institutions, trespassing into CBC premises, terrorising government staff and halting relief work. No arrest has so far been made.

A source told Dawn that the FIR came despite assurances to the organisers that there would be no such action. Most of the organisers have turned off their phones and have gone underground. A protest planned for Thursday (today) outside the offices of the DHA had also been cancelled, the source said.

The FIR was lodged under Sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The FIR says 30-35 ‘miscreants’ used uncivilised language against CBC and state institutions

The persons nominated in the FIR included Shah Khalid, Dr Javed, Dr Rana, Mansoor Aslam, Fahad Jafferi, Danish, Salman Mani, Abdul Rehman, Kunwar Anwar Saeed, Ahmed Amin, Mohammed Awais Thanvi, Manaf Mani, Mohsin Ali Ahmed, Aftab, Junaid, Ammar, Ibrahim, Mohammed Teli, Yasir Bilal, Mahpara, Saad Baber, Salman Aziz and Saeed.

‘Uncivilised language’

The FIR, which was lodged by CBC’s building and security supervisor Munawwar Hasan, said that the complainant was present in the office on Aug 31 while other staffers were in the field for draining out accumulated rainwater.

He said around noon, 40-50 “peaceful residents” came to lodge their complaints and in the meantime, 30-35 “miscreants” came there and were allegedly involved in a scuffle with guards.

They chanted slogans against the CBC and other “state institutions” by using “uncivilised language”. They forcibly entered the CBC office, smashed glasses, flower pots, created hindrances in official work and harassed the staff. They stayed there till 8pm and allegedly affected the dewatering work, the complainant added.

DHA residents meet station commander

A meeting was held between aggrieved DHA residents and Station Commander Karachi Brigadier Abid Askari on Wednesday where the residents were assured that their just demands would be heard.

According to the minutes of the meeting shared by the citizens, a commission will be made to assess the losses and damages incurred by residents and a compensation mechanism is being considered.

It was decided that Brig Askari would be the focal point for discussions with the residents and would be available for all genuine issues.

The residents stressed that DHA cannot be absolved of its responsibilities and its parent organisation, the CBC, was equally accountable.

Reconstruction of proper storm-water drains and immediate removal of all stagnant water on the roads, supply of clean water in pipelines for all residents in DHA, proper sewerage and effluent disposal system, regularly maintained and cleaned, immediate repair of damaged roads were on the agenda.

The residents demanded to know why newly made roads get damaged so easily.

They further urged for functioning security and surveillance cameras all over DHA.

‘Corruption at mid-level’

An oversight committee of civilian residents will have a meeting every two weeks with the CBC.

According to the document, the station commander said the intention of the current administration is to set things right. He acknowledged that there was corruption at the mid-level and some of the residents have also been encouraging this, which has to stop now.

CBC chief executive officer Salim Wattoo, MNA Aftab Siddiqui, MPA Shahzad Qureshi, vice president CBC Aziz Suharwardi and member CBC Colonel Akhtar Hussain were present.

DHA administrator Brig Rao Asif was not present in the meeting.

Ameen Bandukda, Asad Tareen, Hasan Ubaid, Kanwer Saeed, Muniza Aftab Shah, Owais Thanvi, Sabina Khatri and Usman Farooqi represented the residents of DHA.

On Tuesday a meeting of all stakeholders, including the registered DHA Residents Association, was held in which none of these CBC protest organisers were invited.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2020