Geo News reporter Kashif Mushtaq and cameraman Zeeshan Iqbal covering the anti-encroachment operation in Karachi’s Gulistan-e-Jauhar neighbourhood were injured in an attack by the locals protesting against the move on Wednesday.
“As soon as we reached the neighbourhood, my cameraman started filming the road blocked by the protesters,” explained Mushtaq. “Suddenly, around half a dozen protesters came up to us and first snatched the cameraman’s phone, then started beating him.”
He said that when he tried to intervene and persuade the attackers to stop, they also beat him severely. “Besides beating us, they took my Apple Watch and my cameraman’s phone.” He claimed that police were also present there but they did not intervene. He said that senior officers were later informed of the incident, following which the police registered a case, assuring them of making arrests and recovering the stolen items.
The Crime Reporters Association (CRA) slammed the Jauhar incident, and lamented that incidents of violence against journalists while carrying out their duties have been rapidly increasing.
“Our colleagues were also subjected to violence a day earlier,” Atif Raza, the spokesman for the CRA, was quoted as saying in a statement that the association issued following the incident.
“We demand from the higher authorities that the people involved in the incident be arrested immediately and punished, while stringent measures be taken for the security of the journalists covering such stories.”
‘52 plots reclaimed’
The Karachi Development Authority (KDA) said that on the second day of their anti-encroachment operation in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, they reclaimed a huge portion of their land from the encroachers in Block 6 of the neighbourhood.
According to the details shared by the KDA, illegally constructed boundary walls on various plots were demolished, while several illegal shops, tea kiosks and other sorts of encroachments were also removed using heavy machinery.
KDA Estate and Enforcement Additional Director Jamil Baloch told The News that 52 commercial plots were reclaimed during the operation, while a large parking space was also cleared. He said that the land adjacent to the Globe Centre was also reclaimed.
A statement issued by the KDA said that 11 acres of land was reclaimed. A huge contingent of police and Rangers took part in the anti-encroachment operation. KDA Director General Syed Muhammad Ali Shah said that all the encroached KDA land will be reclaimed and handed over to the original allottees in the city.
The operation in Gulistan-e-Jauhar formally kicked off on Tuesday on the orders of the Sindh High Court (SHC). Baloch told The News that the operation was supposed to take place in KDA Scheme 36 in Gulistan-e-Jauhar’s blocks 4, 6, 8, 10 and 11 on the order of the SHC, but it could not happen due to retaliation from the residents.
On Tuesday the operation took place in Gulistan-e-Jauhar’s Bango Gabol Goth, where the residents had illegally bifurcated 800-square-yard plots of the KDA into four and started living there, so the original allottees had approached the SHC in order to reclaim their plots.
Baloch said that on Wednesday the operation could not take place in Block 11 because of the Wednesday Market set up nearby, as they feared retaliation from the residents. He said that another fresh operation would be launched in the area in the next few days.
He also said the KDA had allotted the plots 40 years ago, but whenever they attempted an anti-encroachment operation, they faced heavy retaliation and could not reclaim the plots. He said if they get enough force on Friday, they would resume the operation.
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