DADU: Protest rallies, demonstrations and shutter-down strike were held in many big and small cities and towns of the interior of Sindh on Saturday on a call given by the Sindh United Party (SUP) and Qaumi Awami Tehreek (QAT).
The call for rallies and demonstrations, supported by several other nationalist parties and groups including Sindh Taraqqi-pasand Party (STP), was given to protest demolition of houses in Karachi’s old villages where Bahria Town is reclaiming lands for its housing project.
The Bahria Town administration is facing resistance from the residents of the lands in Gadap and Kathore who are not ready to surrender what they claim to be “their ancestral lands”.
Recently, a man had sustained bullet wounds when armed guards of Bahria Town private security firm clashed with villagers in Kathore.
QAT chief Ayaz Latif Palejo in a statement supported the villagers saying that the Bahria Town Karachi (BTK) administration was making unlawful attempts to occupy their land. He also accused the Sindh government of being hand in glove with the BTK administration and deplored the media for keeping silent over it.
A large number of SUP activists took out a rally from the residence of SUP leader Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah in Jamshoro. They were led by the party’s secretary general Roshan Ali Buriro and local leaders Pir Bux Sahran, Juman Burdi and Mohsin Bhalai.
Speaking to the participants, Mr Buriro said that the BTK administration supported by Sindh government was bent upon occupying the old and historic villages of Karachi. He stressed that the Sindh government, if not supporting the BTK move, must take a clear stand on the issue. He demanded registration of cases under Anti-Terrorism Act against all those involved in harassing and forcibly evicting the villagers.
He demanded an immediate halt to the demolition of houses and snatching of lands from villagers.
In Sehwan, a protest rally was taken out by SUP activists under the leadership of Darya Khan Leghari, Asghar Solangi, Mohammad Nawaz Rind and Ghulam Shabbir Buriro.
In Bhan Syedabad town, the local SUP leaders organised a march on streets and roads before holding a demonstration in front of the local press club.
Similar protests were held in Dadu city, Mehar, Khairpur Nathan Shah, Johi, Moro and Kandiaro towns.
LARKANA: Activists of different nationalist parties took out processions and held demonstrations outside the local press club on Saturday.
SUP leader Sadaruddin Bhatti, STP leader Allah Warayo Umrani and Sindhi Porhiyat Sangat leader Siraj Kalhoro led the protesters.
Carrying banners and placards, the protesters raised slogans against BTK alleging that the firm’s guards were using live ammunition to uproot the villagers. They also criticised the provincial government for looking at the treatment like a spectator.
The leaders noted that residents of the villages possessed valid ownership documents of their lands.
Speaking to the protesters, the SUP and STP leaders condemned that Sindh’s resources were being usurped, CNICs were being issued to outsiders, water share of Sindh was taken away and non-residents of the province were being given Sindh’s domiciles and jobs. Amid this situation, they said, this kind of action to occupy Karachi’s villages spoke of the rulers’ intention to transform Sindhis into a minority within their own province.
They demanded an immediate halt to the destruction of villages and registration of cases against all those involved in the demolition as well as those who were supporting them.
Meanwhile, a delegation of lawmakers belonging to the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) led by Moazzam Abbasi, Shaharyar Mahar, Hasnain Mirza, Arif Mustafa Jatoi and Dr Rafique Bambhan on Saturday called on Federal Minister Asad Umar and briefed him about the latest situation regarding the demolition of old villages in Karachi.
The GDA lawmakers handed over a letter to the minister in which they described the action as “gross breach of law and usurpation of the rights of indigenous people by Bahria Town Karachi in connivance with the provincial government”.
They urged the minister to take up the matter with federal authorities and National Accountability Bureau and ensure that the rights of the affected villagers are protected.
They said the officials and other individuals involved in the “illegal occupation” of villagers’ lands be brought to book.
Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2021