HYDERABAD, Sept 28: Farmers of Chambar area on Sunday sought protection from the so-called Mari force, accusing it of being involved in land grabbing and harassing locals, and called for withdrawal of ‘false’ cases lodged against supporters of the district nazim of Tando Allahyar.

Wadero Allah Dino Otho, a councillor of Chambar taluka, Rais Allah Bux Magsi and Mohammad Ali Khoso said at news conference at the press club that the supporters of District Nazim Dr Rahila Gul Magsi were being harassed through false cases to compel them to change loyalty.

Mr Otho said that the district nazim, nazims and councillors had filed a petition in the Sindh High Court complaining of victimisation, harassment and registration of false cases by irrigation officials and district administration and the court had ordered on Sept 11 that the petitioners should not be harassed and pressurised to change loyalty. But the harassment never stopped, he said.

He said that the irrigation department had stopped supply of water to the watercourse which irrigated the lands of Magsi family, the Rinds, the Othos and the Arisars and did not resume supply even after extracting Rs800,000 from the farmers who had collected the money 10 days ago to get water.

Just two days after getting the money, the irrigation officials accompanied by armed members of Mari force again came to their villages and demanded more money, he alleged.

Mr Otho said that the irrigation officials and Mari force opened fire on the protesting growers who had gathered at the watercourse, seriously injuring Manzoor Halepoto. He was taken to a Chambar hospital from where he was referred to the Hyderabad Civil Hospital but the hospital discharged him just after two days under pressure from the irrigation officials and Mari force. “Tando Allahyar has become a hostage in the hands of Mari force and has been declared a no-go-area,” Mr Otho remarked.

He appealed to the president, prime minister, Hakim Ali Zardari, governor of Sindh and chief minister to stop Mari force and officials of the irrigation department from committing excesses against growers.

Mr Otho said that another false case about water theft was registered at Chambar police station against Rais Allah Bux Magsi, his son and former Sindh minister Dr Irfan Gul Magsi and 15 other innocent people after they booked time at the press club on Saturday for holding the press conference.

To a question, Rais Magsi said that a total of 20 cases of water theft had so far been registered against him and his family.