‘Modern form of colonisation’: APC terms Bahria Town Karachi illegal, demands the land be returned to original position

Dawn

An All Parties Conference (APC) on Sunday declared Bahria Town Karachi (BTK) “illegal and unconstitutional” and “a modern form of colonisation”, calling for the land to be returned to its original status.

Held at the outskirts of Karachi’s Gadap Town in Hadi Bux Gabol Goth on the call of the Indigenous Rights Alliance and attended by the PML-N and nationalist parties from Sindh and Balochistan, the APC resolution said: “BTK had illegally occupied lands and it’s construction work should be stopped.”

“We consider it as a form of colonialism in the 21st century which is worse than the colonialism of the 18th century,” it added. “We believe that BTK is part of [the] invasion of global capitalism.”

During the meeting, the participants termed both the ruling PTI government in the Centre and the PPP government in Sindh as BTK’s “facilitators”. The speakers alleged the PPP government in particular had been exposed as “anti-Sindh” by allowing and initiating the Defence Housing Authority City, Zulfiqarabad and Thar coal projects.

The APC participants alleged that “BTK’s rogue elements under the patronisation of the Sindh government are destroying homes, villages, schools and graveyards like on [the] pattern of Israel in Palestine,” adding that “it was destruction in [the] name of development.”

They recalled that the Sindh government had given 43 dehs to the Malir Development Authority in 2013 and demanded that this notification should be cancelled and the land should be restored to their original position.

The participants were of the view that the Supreme Court in 2018 had declared BTK as illegal. They regretted, however, that the implementation bench of the apex court had violated its powers and legalised BTK in return for money.

The APC members said this was a wrong and illegal decision that should be taken back. They also called for the affectees of BTK whose homes and villages had been destroyed to be compensated as per the market rate. The APC supported a sit-in at the main gate of BTK on June 6 on the call of the Sindh Action Committee while protests would be held in all districts of Sindh on June 27.

The APC also demanded the cancellation of 500 FIRs (first information report) registered against villagers and action to be taken against police officers.

The politicians who attended the APC included Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah, Dr Qadir Magsi, Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch, Yusuf Masti Khan, Karam Wasan, illahi Bux, Nawaz Zaur, Riaz Chandio and others while intellectuals Gul Hasan Kalmati, Amanullah Shaikh, Aijaz Mangi, Ms Salma Junejo, Pariyal Dayu and lawyers and representatives of civil society organisations also attended.

Protests in Sindh against evictions
Protests and demonstrations were held earlier in the month in several big and small cities and towns in rural Sindh against the demolition of houses in Karachi’s old villages where Bahria Town was reclaiming lands for its housing project.

The Bahria Town administration was facing resistance from the residents of the lands in Gadap and Kathore who were not ready to surrender what they claim to be “their ancestral lands”. A man had also sustained bullet wounds when armed guards of the Bahria Town’s private security firm had opened fire at villagers in Kathore.

Gadap Town police had also launched an investigation against BTK security staff for alleged rioting, kidnapping and injuring villagers, and detained more than a dozen staff of the property developer in late-night raids according to official sources.

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