KARACHI: Amendments to the Sindh Land and Tenancy Act which have been proposed by haris (landless peasants) who have been marching since last 12 days will be tabled at the next Sindh Assembly session, Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza said on Thursday.
The last day of the march, the procession of the peasants from Sindh and the leadership of SAP-Pakistan, SHPC and BHS, were joined by thousands of peasants from Punjab, Balochistan and NWFP, as well as members of organisations working for the rights of peasants, workers and women.
Around 4 p.m. on Thursday, the procession started off from the KMC Sports Complex where everyone had camped for the night, and walked through Kashmir Road, MA Jinnah Road and Zebunnisa Street to reach the Sindh Assembly.
The procession was scheduled to start off at 2 p.m. but several groups who were coming to join them from rural Sindh were delayed along the way by the police and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz workers. Regardless, when the rally did start off, all one could see was a mass of people interspersed with thousands of flags, including those of the SHPC, Awami Party, and Haider Bux Jatoi’s Sindh Haari Committee.
Various slogans reverberated through the air as the sea of people wove their way along main roads, by-lanes and footpaths. Several volunteers kept order, and many shopkeepers, residents and passersby came up to the marchers with encouragement. Many even joined the procession, or at least responded to slogans while flashing victory signs. The rally, which had covered almost all of M A Jinnah Road, finally reached the Sindh Assembly around 6:30 p.m., where, surrounded by massive trucks and hordes of police.
The leadership of the movement went into the Sindh Assembly building to speak with the ministers. After a while, Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza came out and addressed the rally. She said she was proud of the fact that the peasants and workers of the country were now aware of their rights and were also aware of how to get them.
She also promised that the amendments in the Sindh Land and Tenancy Act would be tabled at the next Sindh Assembly session.
“If these promises are not fulfilled, we will march again on August 15 and stage another sit-in here. That sit-in will be an absolute re-enactment of the peasants’ sit-in led by Haider Bux Jatoi more than 50 years ago. It had resulted in the passing of the Sindh Land and Tenancy Act,” SAP-Pakistan provincial coordinator Syed Zulfiqar Shah said in his speech. He made the participants promise not to give up the fight, and to continue “till the rule of the workers and peasants was set up in the country.”
SHPC head Punhal Sario lambasted past and present rulers and systems of the government in the country for doing nothing substantial for the rights of peasants, workers and women, and for not ensuring the implementation of laws in letter and spirit.
Speakers at the sit-in took pride in the fact that not a single window was broken during the march. “Our peaceful struggle is our strength. It should, however, not be taken as a sign of weakness,” they said.
The long march started in Hyderabad on February 15 from the tomb of “Baba-e-Sindh” (father of Sindh) Haider Bux Jatoi and culminated on February 26 (Thursday) in Karachi with a sit-in in front of the Sindh Assembly building to demand the establishment of Haari courts, amendments in the Sindh Land and Tenancy Act and rights for landless peasants in the province.
The march was organised by South Asia Partnership, Pakistan (SAP-Pakistan), Sindh Haari Porhiat Council (SHPC) and Bhandar Hari Sangat (BHS).