First time, people held a protest on the boats
People have held a protest at Ibrahim Hyderi, Jaamot Jetty on the boats on the sea against ordinance ‘Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA) 2020’ by the ruling part in Pakistan.
People, civil society, independent writers, and political parties joint protest and demanded the federal government to abrogate its illegal ordinance on Islands of Sindh and Balochistan. It was first time that protest was held on the boats on the sea, more than 40 boats were available at the rally.
“Imran Khan wants to kill our boat,” senior lady, at protest, says; “If we did not have a boat, who would feed my family. we are dependent on the sea.” “Now, government wanted to snatch our sea and kill our boats.”
Federal government claimed that its project would help the local fishermen but the locals were not aware of projects. Meanwhile, people caught Federal and provincial governments dealing in the secrecy, thus, Sindh government did step back from its conditional support and announced that would not hold talks to Centre till they revoked its illegal ordinance.
People were on the boats to oppose the ordinance:
Fisherman, who was driving the boat, asked that “Why Imran Khan punishes us (Fisherman) by snatching our Islands.”
Mohammad Ali Shah, president at Pakistan Fisher folk Forum who was one of foremost organizers, opposed the ordinance during his speech – saying, people would not accept any illegal move by federal government. “Look at us, we are on the boat on sea and we are protesting against your undemocratic actions. We will never allow you to steal our sea.” He said that they were committed to fight till the last. Neither Federal nor Sindh government had right to construct on Islands.
Gul Hassan Kalmati, who is a historian, member of the committee, said; government had violated the Ramsar Convention and could not construct any thing on delta site. Government was on the point of killing marine lives and people’s lives, too.
The protest was led by Save Islands Movement, it was formed Pakistan Fisher folk Forum (PFF), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Indigenous people, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Aurat Foundation, Sindhi Nationalist Political Parties, National Trade Union Federation, and protestors joint rally from different cities of Sindh.
Usman Baloch, senior political activist and author, said that we kept raising our the voices in order to save our resources. He pointed out at undeveloped area, Ibrahim Hyderi, the rulers did not want to construct area of fishermen, but; they (rulers) had seen the developments on the Islands. It was not a development, indeed, they were pushing us against the wall.
“We (Sindhis) want Sindh government to bring act in Sindh Assembly and ask federal government to revoke the ordinance,” said Dr. Qadir Magsi, Chairman at Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party, joint the rally.
The locals sang geets (folk songs) that were replete with resistance. For instance:
“Asaan Jee Machhi Te Tu Dhariya Qabzo Tho Kareen” (Alien, you want to encroach upon our Fish)
“Machhi Man Na Dido Saan, Maan Tu Saan Vardus” (I will not access you fish, I will fight.)
Navy Forces warned and refused protesters:
The rally was to have visited the Islands (Dingi and Bhundar) but Navy forces did not permit them going to Dingi. Navy forces seen pointing guns at protestors, warning protestors that they should not participate such kind of protests.
Gul Hassan Kalmati said; “Now, everyone can see that how they are treating the locals.” The construction has been started on Dingi Island. If they completed the project, would they (forces) allow the locals to work there when they were stopping us, now, he said.
The rally could not go Bhundar Island owing to the water level was lower. On the other hand, locals also complained of being stopped by forces visiting Shrine Yousif Shah Mela.
Women firmly rejected construction on Islands:
Bilquees, who was a widow, joint protest because she wanted to save the Islands. She said that they would destroy them. “I am a widow, villagers help her because they fetch the fish, and share with me. If they constructed the buildings on the Islands, Fauj (referring to Navy forces) would not permit them fishing there.” Women who lived in village expressed their views angrily, Imran Khan came to power for stealing our Islands. They were afraid of losing small amount of earning – fisherman earned 500 to 1000 Pakistani Rupees, per day.
Senior lady was remembering Shaheed Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto, said that If she were alive, they would not have seen such kind of situation. She had decided not to vote anyone in future.
Maai Saaran, looking at the sea and saying, “We firmly believe in Laal Sea (Laal name refers to precious thing) will save us.”
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