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April 6, 2017

Officials run for life as encroachers turn violent in Machar Colony


April 6, 2017

Campaign suspended as angry residents torch AEC mobile

and excavator, block Mauripur Road

The municipal authorities had to suspend a campaign to remove encroachments from the Lyari River bed in Machar Colony on Wednesday after residents turned violent and forced officials of the Anti-Encroachment Cell (AEC) to run for their lives.

Protesters set an AEC mobile and an excavator on fire, pelted officials with stones and blocked Mauripur Road against the demolition of their illegal houses which they had built recently.

A day earlier, 30 houses recently built in Kohat Mohalla of Machar Colony had been razed. As the drive resumed on Wednesday to bring down another 35 houses on the directives of the deputy commissioner (DC) of the West district, Muhammad Asif Jameel, residents pelted the AEC staffers with stones and set ablaze a mobile van. 

Talking to The News, Keamari SP Arif Aziz, who served as AEC SSP in the recent past, said the deputy commissioner had issued a letter to the AEC to get the government land vacated for a project. “The AEC and the area residents had been in a head-on collision for the last 15 days over the vacation of the government land.”

SP Aziz said: “Keeping the growing tension in the area in view, many occupants left their houses built on the PR land, but many others refused to leave their houses for the West DC project.

“The AEC started its drive on Tuesday and razed 30 houses out of a total 65, and they arrived in the area today to accomplish the task. The drive was going on peacefully when a man with a head injury appeared in front of a mob and complained that AEC staff had hurt him with a stone.”

The police officer said: “The mob turned angry and started pelting AEC staffers present there with stones, forcing them to leave the area to save their lives.”  He added that the mob tried to set an excavator on fire.

Following the intervention of police, the protesters moved towards Mauripur Road and blocked both tracks for traffic at Ghulaman-e-Abbas School by setting fire to tyres.

They chanted slogans against the AEC and demanded immediate suspension of the anti-encroachment drive in the area, saying that they would not end their protest if their demand was not met.

They claimed that the AEC staffers started demolishing their houses without serving them with notices for evacuation. They said the officials destroyed their houses, causing them financial losses of millions of rupees.

The road blockade caused a traffic mess in Agra Taj Colony and Shershah. That led to traffic congestion and snarl-ups in other areas in the afternoon.

A heavy contingent of police reached the spot and tried to disperse the crowd. City SSP Adeel Chandio also arrived at Mauripur Road and persuaded the protesters to disperse on the assurance that the drive would be suspended for some time.

Talking to The News, SSP Chandio said residents had filed a petition in the Sindh High Court (SHC) for a stay of the anti-encroachment campaign, but the court refused to issue a stay order. “The police would assist the AEC when they restart the drive,” he said, adding that people who set the AEC mobile on fire would be taken to task.

When DC Muhammad Asif Jameel was approached for comments on the issue, he said a survey had been carried out for the revival of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) in 2008 and surveyed the land again in 2013.

“After the new survey, some people made fresh encroachments on the Lyari River’s bed, and this operation was started to remove encroachments,” he claimed. “The drive was started to facilitate the KCR project.”

When the DC was questioned about ownership of the piece of land, he said that it was a government land.