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June 22, 2021

Karachi Bachao Tehreek demands houses for people affected in nullah operations

 
June 22, 2021

Leaders of the Karachi Bachao Tehreek (KBT) on Monday asked Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani to ask the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to narrow down the 30-foot-wide roads it was planning to construct along the Gujjar and Orangi nullahs just the way roads along the Mehmoodabad Nullah in his constituency were narrowed down to 12 feet.

Addressing a press conference, KBT Convener Khurram Ali criticised the Sindh government for threatening, intimidating and manhandling protesters outside the Bilawal House and condemned their arrests.

The Sindh police arrested about 150 people, including activists of the KBT, Women Democratic Front, and women and children affected by the anti-encroachment drives of the Gujjar and Orangi nullahs. The sit-in was organised outside the Bilawal House to demand rehabilitation of the families affected by the anti-encroachment drive. The protesters were taken to at least three different police stations - the Clifton, Darakhshan and Women and Children police stations. They were released around the time the KBT called for an urgent press conference to condemn the arrests.

“Affectees had only decided to go to the Bilawal House after the provincial government paid no heed to their demands for rehabilitation,” said Ali. “These are your people. Talk to them,” he said as he criticised the provincial government’s orders to arrest the protesters.

Lawyer and Gujjar Nullah affectee Khwaja Altaf said leased properties could not be declared encroachments under the Sindh Anti-Encroachment Act. “This is a misuse of law, clear and simple!” he said. “Our only demand is that we be given a home against a home,” he added.

Narrating the day’s events and the harassment, the affectees faced even before the start of the protest, Gujjar Nullah Affectees Committee Vice President Erum Yasmin said police had raided the office where the affected people convened for meetings in the Kausar Niazi Colony and confiscated placards the protesters were supposed to carry.

The committee’s president, Arsalan Ghani, said the Sindh government did not comply with any of its own procedures and regulations, enshrined in its own laws. “Why were we treated in this manner? And who are these laws to favour if not the public?” he asked.

JI’s appeals

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi Emir Hafiz Naeemur Rehman on Monday visited the Nasla Tower to express solidarity with the affected people and appealed to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to revisit its judgment for removal of the tower.

Addressing a press conference, Rehman said the JI in principle condemned encroachments but it also demanded justice in letter and spirit. A few days ago, the apex court ordered the demolition of the Nasla Tower for encroaching on the land meant for a service road. The detailed order in this regard was issued on Saturday.

Rehman said unilateral punishment to the end user residents of the tower was unacceptable. "The affected people of the judgment are not responsible for the encroachment,” he said as he explained that all the relevant authorities and departments had regularised the tower.

He said the onus of the responsibility for allowing encroachments should be placed on then authorities when the tower was erected, not on the innocent people residing in the complex. He added that the people living in the tower had been paying all taxes and liabilities set by the government. The punishment should be granted to actual culprits, the JI leader said. He asked what the fate of the then IGP, land authorities and other officers shoul be as they had allowed the encroachments.