Civil society demands end to demolition drive in Mujahid Colony

Members of the civil society on Thursday condemned the demolition of houses in Mujahid Colony and demanded that the Sindh government immediately stop the forced eviction of people from their homes.

Addressing a presser at the Karachi Press Club, civil society members and the affected people said the government has already razed some 600 houses and around 400 more would be demolished in the coming days. They said that owing to the unplanned demolition drive, the authorities have snatched shelter from 2,000 families without providing any of them with an alternative space.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Co-chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt said the residents of Mujahid Colony were legally settled in the area. They have all the legal documents that prove the residents of Mujahid Colony are not encroachers, he added.

He pointed out that the Sindh Katchi Abadis Authority had given documents of lease to a number of residents. He asked why the government had legalised their houses if they were illegally settled. He said the police are forcefully evicting the residents of Mujahid Colony so their houses are bulldozed. Due to the police violence, two minors lost their lives and a woman had a miscarriage, while a number of injured are under treatment at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, he added.

He demanded that the provincial government immediately stop the inhuman violence against the affected families. It is the responsibility of the authorities concerned to provide alternative shelter to the affected families, he stressed.

Activist Naghma Iqtidar Sheikh said that hundreds of families in Mujahid Colony are sleeping under the open sky because the government has demolished their houses. She said women and children who were thrown out onto the roads need immediate attention. However, she lamented, instead of providing shelter to families, the government is intent on razing their homes. She pointed out that people in the nearby neighbourhoods have raised their rents, so the affected families are unable to meet their high demand. “The government should provide shelter to the affected families of Mujahid Colony on humanitarian grounds.”

Maulana Abdul Rasheed Naumani of the Mujahid Colony Affectees Action Committee said winter is just around the corner, adding that the affected families had been unprepared to leave their homes. “They had been given no prior notice. A number of families don’t have enough resources to rent another house.”

Naumani said people have lost their jobs because of the demolition of their houses. He said they need urgent help from the government. However, he lamented, instead of compensating the affected families, the authorities have expedited the demolition drive without providing any alternative accommodation.

Zahid Farooq of the Urban Resource Centre said Mujahid Colony is one of the oldest colonies of Karachi, as it was settled in 1945 by Rajasthani Rajputs.

He said that in 1952, a number of Pashtun families migrated to Karachi and settled Mujahid Colony. However, he added, some Christian families also settled there in 1970. Farooq said a majority of residents were labourers working in the nearby settled areas. He said they have been residing in Mujahid Colony for the past several decades. Now these residents have ownership rights, so the provincial government must compensate them before bulldozing their homes, he added.

He pointed out that the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) had become subordinate to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) in 1985. He said that in 2022, the KDA started a demolition drive under the control of the KMC, adding that there are political motives behind this demolition drive, so it must be stopped.

Published in The News 18 Nov 2023