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May 24, 2019

Anti-encroachment operation halted midway in District Central as residents protest


May 24, 2019

On the eighth day of its anti-encroachment operation to clear the Karachi Circular Railway’s (KCR) track, the authorities entered District Central’s Gharibabad area on Thursday.

The operation had to be stopped midway due to retaliation from residents. However, to clear 50 feet on both sides of the track, more than 60 houses were demolished.

On May 9, the Supreme Court had given 15 days’ time to the Pakistan Railways to clear at least 50 feet on both sides of the local railway track, after which a joint operation by the Pakistan Railways and the district administration is being carried out in District East.

On Thursday, it reached District Central.

Before the operation, the district police made an announcement on loudspeakers telling the encroachers to vacate the land.

A heavy contingent of police was present at the scene, including female police officers. During the operation, residents gathered and tried to stop the bulldozers, after which a scuffle broke out between police personnel and residents.

The police however successfully managed the crowd and pushed them back. Later, when more crowds gathered, the officials had to stop the anti-encroachment operation midway.

According to SSP Railway Shahla Qureshi, the anti-encroachment operation has now entered District Central from East. “Last day, residents of Gharibabad were informed of the operation and even a soft encroachment was also removed from the area a day earlier,” she said, adding that now they were demolishing concrete houses.

There were more than 300 residential units along the KCR’s land in Gharibabad, which, she said, had to be demolished.

Assistant Engineer Pakistan Railways Shah Muhammad Mustoi said that the residents of Gharibabad were given time until Sehri to vacate the land of the KCR. “There is no dearth of machinery,” he said and stressed that whatever time the residents asked for they gave it to them and now they would carry out the operation.

Meanwhile, residents were of the opinion that they had been living in the vicinity for years and never in the era of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) or the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz had they been forced to leave. “It’s Imran Khan’s government when we are being deprived of our houses during Ramazan,” said a resident of the area, Fatima Khatoon.

The Pakistan Railways authorities announced the resumption of the operation in Gharibabad today and said it would continue till the Liaquatabad Railway Station on both sides of the track.

Meanwhile, Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani has requested the Pakistan Railways to run a train on the KCR’s track on a trial basis to check the feasibility and prospects of the project.

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