KARACHI: Five people were taken into custody for resisting the demolition of seven residential buildings in Sultanabad near the US Consulate, police said on Wednesday.
The Karachi Bachao Tehreek, an alliance of several political and civil society organisations, was protesting against the demolition of houses around three major drains in the metropolis.
It said that working-class residents of Sultanabad near the US Consulate had been arrested for ‘peacefully protesting’ against the demolition of their homes.
KBT convenor Khurram Nayar told Dawn that on Monday night, the deputy commissioner of Keamari, Mukhtiar Abro, asked the residents to vacate their houses because the same would be demolished in view of ‘security concerns’ to the foreign mission.
Police arrest five protesters; DC says ‘high-rise’ buildings built illegally on small plots
Mr Nayar claimed that the residents had already obtained a stay order from the Sindh High Court a week ago.
Despite this, the demolition of seven residential buildings started on Tuesday under the supervision of the area deputy commissioner.
He said some of the residents tried to film the demolition work and ran towards their homes when the law-enforcers took action but the police detained five of them in the evening.
They were initially taken to the Jackson police station where the activists reached. Subsequently, they were taken to the Docks police station where a case was registered against them on charges of “attempted murder, riots and encounter with the police”.
The KBT chief added the held citizens were presented before a concerned court, which remanded them in police custody for two days.
Mr Khurram claimed that the authorities were destroying the residential buildings because of a ‘perceived security threat’ to the UC consulate general.
He said that the residents had constructed the buildings and they had got layout plans approved by the authorities concerned besides two officials of the consulate had also visited and reportedly ‘gave’ an approval for construction activities some years ago.
On the other hand, DC-Keamari Abro told Dawn that seven high-rise buildings had been built on small plots, which were ‘illegal’.
“These structures were threat to life of people, therefore, they are being demolished,” the DC said, adding that the SHC had not given any stay order.
“We will not dispossess the residents, but upper storeys [of their houses] will be demolished,” the DC added.
Keamari SSP Fida Husain Janwari said five people were arrested after they had resisted the ‘anti-encroachment drive’ and had been booked.
The officer added that the police were there to provide protection to the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), anti-encroachment and revenue department officials.
The SSP said as per DC Keamari, these seven buildings were ‘illegal’, therefore they were being demolished.
He said the DC had also told the police that the stay order had been vacated. Therefore, the anti-encroachment drive was launched on Tuesday and continued till Wednesday, he added.
Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2022