Scheme 33 society dwellers accuse police of harassment

By Faraz Khan
June 17, 2024
Sindh police personnel stand guard on the road. — APP/File

Owning a home is everyone's dream, but in today's era of high inflation, building your own house is undoubtedly a very difficult task. In such a situation, when someone invests their entire life’s savings for building a home and then faces attempts to illegally occupy their property, it becomes extremely frustrating.

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This is exactly what has been happening to residents of a residential society in Scheme 33, Karachi. They are being harassed by police on a daily basis to the extent that they say they are struggling to save their homes.

In a show of determination, a significant number of residents from the society staged a protest on Saturday. The protesters, who included women and children, highlighted their ongoing challenges amidst threats of illegal occupation.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) MPA Arsalan Pervaiz from PS-98 Karachi East-II also joined the protest and engaged directly with the protesters, assuring them of his full support. He pledged to take up the matter with police if necessary, and also promised to raise the issue in the assembly for broader legislative action.

The protesters also shared all relevant documents and court orders to the MPA. "I assure you that I stand with you, and we will not leave you alone in this matter," stated Arsalan. "If this issue is not resolved through police intervention, we will take it up in the assembly and raise our voices there, ensuring that no injustice is done to anyone."

The protesters alleged that they were being harassed by police personnel of the Sacchal police station in District East. According to the demonstrators, police vehicles have been regularly patrolling their neighbourhood without authorisation, disrupting ongoing construction activities.

The residents also claimed that labourers, guards and watchmen within the society have also been arbitrarily detained and taken to the police station. "We are living in constant fear, trying desperately to protect what we have worked so hard for," lamented one of the protesting women. "We feel trapped in our own homes; we have to stay indoors because we fear that police or land grabbers might intrude and forcibly evict us.”

Another protesting woman said, "We invested our life savings and even sold our gold jewellery to build our homes. However, the constant fear instilled by the police has been leaving us traumatised day by day. Our children cannot freely leave the house, nor can we sit outside and enjoy the open air peacefully.”

Instead of focusing on snap checking and patrolling roads, protesters claimed that police had intensified their presence within their residential area. "We are constantly under surveillance, whether it's private vehicles, motorcycles, or police mobiles – they are always here, day and night," expressed another woman participating in the protest.

"If they don't find anything, they resort to filming our homes. They film us, they film our women, they halt construction work, and anyone who questions them is taken to the police station."

Protesters condemned what they described as excessive monitoring and harassment, emphasising that such actions invade their privacy and disrupt their daily lives. The residential society’s administration and union also approached the Sindh High Court against undue police interference. The high court provided them relief declaring that even if there was some civil dispute over the land, police interference was undue.

"All officers from East police have acknowledged receipt of the High Court's orders, yet harassment by police persists," stated the society administration. "We are left with no options. Seeking police assistance is futile as they are against us. We were compelled to approach the high court, but unfortunately, police refuse to adhere to court directives. What else can we do? Where else can we seek help?"

The society administration alleges that the problem has been orchestrated by a former partner involved in the society who wanted to usurp it using police influence. Under a plan, complaints against the society were lodged with police so that police could use it as a pretext to harass the residents.

"The crux of the matter is that this is a civil dispute where the police should have no role," explained the administration. "Ideally, the police should facilitate mediation between both parties or refer the case to court for resolution. However, it appears that the police's sole focus now is patrolling our society and perpetuating harassment."

In response to claims by protesters that police vehicles, both official and private, often stopped on roads in the society stating that they had orders from the SSP to do so, District East SSP Dr Farrukh Raza denied his involvement in the case.

Speaking to The News, SSP Raza clarified, “From my side, no police mobile has been sent to any society because it is not the job of the police to go to a society and get work stopped there. Police cannot be involved in land or society issues unless there is a major incident of violence or a serious law and order situation.”

He added that an investigation had been initiated into why police presence was being claimed and why his name was being used in such matters.

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