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November 7, 2010

Nisar Baloch remembered


November 7, 2010

The NGO, Shehri-CBE on Saturday urged the government to take concerted efforts to bring the culprits involved in the killing of social activist, Nisar Baloch to task and provide justice to his family.
In a statement issued on the first death anniversary of Baloch, Shehri appealed to the authorities concerned to prevent the ‘expanding’ encroachment in Gutter Baghicha for whose protection Baloch struggled for years and ultimately lost his life on November 7, 2009. Baloch, who had spent some 16 years trying to save Gutter Baghicha from land grabbers, was killed in close proximity to the said open amenity plot.
“Baloch was a brave and committed social activist, involved in the uplift and education of the people of Trans-Lyari area. His widow and daughter mourn his loss and so do the poor of the area in which he worked along with the members of Shehri, to whom he was an inspiration,” the statement read.
“Nisar spearheaded the ‘Gutter Baghicha Bachao Tehreek’ to save the 430 acres that had become the ‘lungs’ of a congested district encompassing Purana Golimar, Shershah, SITE, Nazimabad, Paposh, Dhobi Ghat, Mewa Shah and contiguous thickly populated areas. It was an amenity space where greenery flourished and children, women and men came to recreate, have picnics and play. Sports fields and games areas were established to provide the deprived citizens a welcome break from the pressures of urban life,” it further read.
Giving the background of the encroachment in the amenity plot, the statement read, “In 1993, KMC officials had 200 acres ‘fraudulently’ allotted to themselves (KMC Officers’ Society), along with smaller portions to other societies. Factories on the periphery of SITE nibbled at the edges of the park. Illegal water-hydrants were established in collusion with government officials. In mid-June 2009, ‘armed invasion’ of the northern part of Gutter Baghicha, in a section reserved for the 163-acre

‘National Park’, took place. Although this park was under development since 2005, this particular section was deliberately left open and undeveloped so that a ‘political mafia’ could grab it. In May 2009, when President Asif Ali Zardari announced Rs 0.4 billion grant, as part of the Green Karachi Project for the said ‘National Park’, the mafia panicked and began to encroach on the said area.”
“In response to sustained local protests, FIR 156/2009 dated June 30, 2009
was registered against the land-grabbers at the Pak Colony police station, but no further action resulted. On July 15, 2009, CDGK’s EDO (Revenue), Sajjad Hussain Abbasi, along with Senator Nisar Memon, columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee and other concerned citizens inspected the encroached plot and saw the armed men but still the city government did nothing. The collusion of the administration with the land-grabbers was finally exposed when, on July 29, 2009 (six weeks after the invasion), the City Council passed Resolution No 544 providing plots in Gutter Baghicha to the alleged ‘old inhabitants’ of the adjacent Hasrat Mohani Colony who had been displaced 27 years earlier when the katchi-abadi was regularized. On September 26, 2009, CDGK also submitted a ‘fraudulent’ layout map in the high court (in blatant contradiction to earlier submitted CDGK maps and brochure) which showed about 50 acres of land was sliced off the under-construction ‘National Park’. After many frustrating months of appealing to all and sundry, on November 6, 2009, Nisar Baloch and others held a press conference at the Karachi Press Club and named the persons behind the land grabbing. The very next day, Baloch was killed,” the statement by Shehri’s read.
“The city, provincial and federal governments know exactly what happened (including the fact that the Gutter Baghicha land-grab is presently expanding), and who killed Nisar Baloch. If they are sincere about good governance, we ask them to take action today,” the statement added.

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