Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum’s Haroon Baloch, affectionately known as Mama, was targeted by the “land mafia” while he was on his way home to Mubarak Village near Hawkesbay on Wednesday evening.
The assailants boarded the bus Mama was on and then shot him dead. The community leader and former councillor was 72 years old.
Mama was fighting against the land mafia, who seek to grab the beach land in Mubarak Village to use it for commercial purposes.
He had put up resistance for a long time and, in the end, sacrificed his life for protecting the natural resources, beaches, villages and mangroves forests.
Mubarak Village is located at the scenic beach sharing sea border with Balochistan. A large number of followers and community activists reached the village to mourn his death.
Two of PFF’s community leaders were killed three years ago in Kaka Village for resisting the land mafia to protect the mangroves forests.
Mama was against the destruction of the village’s natural beauty in the name of promotion of tourism near his scenic beach village.
He believed that tourism might have lots of benefits but it could also have harmful effects: it could lead to unsustainable coastal development, as the infrastructure is built on the shoreline to accommodate tourists, which would affect their norms, culture and lifestyle.
He feared that several big and small century-old villages could be affected in the name of development and tourism, and land grabbers and other commercial mafias could encroach on their lands and resources.
He lamented that most of the coastal villages lacked basic necessities such as water, electricity and gas. “There is neither a dispensary nor a proper education system for our children.”
This was the main reason the land mafia wanted to sell the village land to outsiders for development and Mama was resisting the move.
PFF Chairman Mohammed Ali Shah said: “The lives of community elders are at risk. We shall continue the struggle to safeguard our natural resources, scenic beaches, villages and mangroves forests.”
Shah reiterated his appeal to the campaigners of Karachi that they should understand that these community elders were fighting the war for the citizens to protect the beaches and mangroves forests.
“The lives of our own elders are assets and inspiring for us, and we shall not remain silent over these attacks by land grabbers.”
It is the responsibility of the government to ensure protection to lives and properties of the citizens, he added.
He said that the people who were trying to grab the land of the beaches and destroy the resources should be brought to book.