House Demolitions in Toba Tek Singh
June 8, 2010 § Leave a Comment
UPDATE (6/12) — SIGN THE PETITION
UPDATE (6/11)–FINANCE APPEAL AND PETITION:
Tariq reports that the condition of the affected families remains very serious. Though a local committee has been set up to facilitate relief work, they are of course short of funds. Money is, really, the need of the hour.
Any financial help at all would be greatly, greatly appreciated. You can send money to our Paypal account, and we will make sure that the money gets to the committee. Anyone who can help–please email us at progpak[at]gmail.com, and we’ll walk you through it. Thanks in advance.
We are also preparing a petition which we hope to fax to the relevant powers-that-be once we’ve reached a critical mass (hopefully in a day or two). Please put your name to that, as well. The knowledge that others are watching might just make a difference.
Via Asfhaq Fateh and Tariq Mehmood (LPP) comes this frightening report of the mass demolition of over a hundred houses in Gojra, Toba Tek Singh. All this, it bears repeating, at the hands of the same State to which we’ve been instructed to entrust our liberation.
Workers’ 108 houses demolished in Gojra, Toba Tek Singh
Toba Tek Singh. Over hundred houses of poor labourers in Chak 241 G.B, Garha, Thesil, Gojra, district Toba Tek Singh demolished and residents were badly tortured by the police. The residents of Garah had been living in the village for over forty years. They had been supplied electricity by the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company and water by Tehsil (sub-district) Municipal Administration.
Details “Chak # 241 Garah is located sixteen kilometers away from Gojra, district, Toba Tek Singh. Over two hundred families of labourers including vendors, factory workers, brickiln daily wage workers and peasants had been living in the colony in Garah since 1980. These poor workers built their houses with great difficulties. Most of them have been still paying the loan they have taken from their employers.
On May 27, 2010, Deputy District Officer Revenue and Tehsildar, Gojra stormed with heavy contingent of police and Tehsil Municipality Administration (TMA) workers on the colony of Chak Garah. An announcement was made to evacuate the houses and the area within fifteen minutes. The situation turned worst when TMA staffs crushed an old woman with a tractor. The residents protested peacefully to the staffs but police baton charged the people, manhandled the peaceful poor and looted the valuables and demolished the houses of the poor workers with heavy cranes. The residents hardly got daily usable things from their houses. Not even the women and children were spared by the police contingent. More than a dozen residents got injured.
The administration used all kinds’ acts of aggression over the poor workers and registered a fake case against the 68 poor workers the victims. The Provincial government’s Revenue department staffs went on strike to express solidarity with the demolition team to press the government to take stern actions against the residents of Garha village. Even they demanded government to register a case against the victims under terrorist act. Clearly the departments were acting on the instructions of the government against the poor.
The demolition was well planned and coordinated among the government departments, all the trees in the residential areas have been removed, and Faisalabad electric supply Company removed the power meters. Water supply has been disconnected; water taps of the colony have also been removed.
The evicted have no place for shelter. Their livestock have been stolen by the demolishers. People are living under the sky with no water and shade. A child died of sizzling heat and another baby girl is severely sick. The affected have no resources to go to doctors for their children and the families.
Life has been made impossible for the victims. The case against the victims and no relief for them caused more problems for the poor workers. Muhammad Azam told reporters, “The Revenue staffs demand to register a case against us under terrorist act is strange, if we were terrorists nobody would attack us, we would not be doing daily wage work, we hardly survive. We believe in peace and non-violence”
Muhammad Anwar a victim told the reporters, “The children of the colony have no books to go to school. They are terrified and missing their homes. They are in a traumatic situation. Our so called representatives are silent. Nobody has come to see our wreckage and the conditions we are living in”.
A senior journalist from Gojra, Arshad Mehmood Nasir, and President Gojra Press Club has been attacked when he was at home. He got bullet shots in his both legs and is hospitalized in Gojra Hospital. His crime: he highlighted the persons behind the demolition. He alleged that Haji Muhammad Ishaq the provincial minister for revenue and senior Pakistan Peoples Party leader is supporting those involved in illegal demolition of the houses. Arshad is under treatment and is committed to continue to work for the weaker groups of the society. Arshad has been hailed and encouraged by the poor.
Civil society and the victims have condemned the district administration for their silence over the issue and not providing any relief to the victims. They urged Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and Lahore High Court to take SUO MOTO action against the officials and political figures involved for the tyranny against poor workers. The following demands have been made,
1. The Chief Minister Punjab should order to rebuild the houses and pay the compensation for their households.
2. The residents should be allotted the rights of ownership.
3. Human Rights Organization, Charity and relief organizations are requested to support the victims.
4. Criminals who attacked Arshad Mehmood senior journalist must be arrested immediately.
5. Remove fake case against 68 victims.
6. District Health Department should set up medical camp for the sick.
7. TMA water carrier vehicle should provide water every day.
8. Looted valuables and livestock must be recovered.
9. Power supply must be restored.
10. Free books and uniforms should be given to the school children
11. Deputy District Officer Revenue and other government officials must be sacked and put on trial.
12. Chief Secretary Punjab and District Coordination Officer and the Commissioner Faisalabad should visit the site immediately to assess the loss and express solidarity with the victims.
Note. For picture story, click the web album, http://picasaweb.google.com/ashfaq.fateh/EvictionInGojra#
Ashfaq Fateh and Tariq Mehmmod, Labour Party Pakistan
Toba Tek Singh
June 7, 2010