Hyderabad :A protest was organized by Sindh Agriculture General Workers Union and Hari Haqdar Tahreek (HHT) at Hyderabad Press Club against force occupation and burning of houses of Bheel community by land mafia workers.
The demonstration was led by the union General Secretary Comrade Lal Bakhsh Lalan and Hari Haqdar’s vice president Sabhagi Bheel. In addition to the affectees, representatives of labor and human rights organizations participated in the protest.
Addressing the protest demonstration, Nasir Mansoor, Secretary General of the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan (NTUF) , said that the land mafia was now active in rural areas as was in cities and the ancient settlers were being evicted with the connivance of the administration.
Attempts are being made to seize the 100-year-old Bheel Mori Goth near the town of Hala, which contains more than 200 houses of landless haris, and the local administration is backing the illegal operation of land mafia. If this does not stop, the scope of the protest will be widened.
Explaining the details of the attack on Bheel Mori Goth, Sabhagi Bheel, vice-president of Hari Haqdar Tehreek, said that in broad daylight on May 10, land mafia ring leaders Luqman Rajput, Jamil Rajput, Ali Muawiyah and their other two dozen armed thugs attacked the village and some houses were set on fire, killing the cattle and leaving several residents barely able to save their lives.
On this occasion, the thugs continued firing but the police failed to stop them and the people of Goth started protesting. And then lodged an FIR at the local police station. A few attackers have been arrested while the real culprits are still at large.
Women Hari leader added that the area has become very valuable due to its location within the city limits and on main road. So the land mafia has an eye on it and also prepared forged documents in collaboration with the Revenue Department.
She informed that the Goth was very old settlement even before the inception of Pakistan but now mafia wants to take it in the Claim. There have been several attempts made to seize the land of this century old Goth for two years but each time the haris had thwarted the attempts with their unity.
Sabhagi Bheel said that on her request, an investigation team comprising representatives of NTUF, HBWWF and HRCP visited Bheel Mori to express solidarity with the community on 13th May and get first hand information of the tragedy from the victims.
At protest Dr. Badr Soomro, council member of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that the attempt of mafia to deprive the oppressed peasants of their shelters was to deprive the people of their basic right to housing which is guaranteed by the constitution and law of the country. He reiterated that human and workers’ rights organization would go to any lengths to protect this constitutional right of citizens especially of downtrodden section of society.
He added that he was part of an investigation group that met with the area’s SHO, DSP and investigating police officers. And reminded the officials that their primary responsibility was to stop the land mafia’s bullying threats and to provide protection to the victims.
He expressed solidarity with the protesting haris and said that HRCP was with them in their struggle.Among those who addressed the protesters were Zehra Khan of HBWWF, Shakeela Khan of Home Based Bengal Workers Union, Qazi Khidr, a human rights activist and Imran Rizvi, a leader of Sindh Irrigation Employees Union.
The protesters demanded that1. All the attackers on Bheel Mori Goth be arrested. 2. Goth and its inhabitants should be protected from land mafia and “Claim mafia”. 3. The administration should abandon the support of the attackers and not become an obstacle in the way of justice. 4. Despite the passage of 73 years of Pakistan’s existence, the seizure of Sindh lands in the name of Claims should be ended. 5. Strict action should be taken against government officials who assisted in making fake land claim papers.