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Civil Society Demonstration Against Bahria Town And The Disappearance Of Seengar Noonari

ISLAMABAD: Awami Workers Party (AWP) and progressive organizations staged demonstrations in various cities including the federal capital Islamabad against the occupation of land by Bahria Town, an alleged nexus of the state and a real estate mafia, the demolition of slums and the kidnapping of AWP activist Seengar Noonari.

The demonstration in front of the National Press Club in Islamabad was attended by human rights activists, workers of political parties, affectees of the Dadhocha Dam project and other personalities belonging to various schools of thought.

The demonstrators not only chanted slogans against Bahria Town in Karachi but also protested against what they consider the illegal arrest of Seengar Noonari, who was arrested from Karachi yesterday.

Demonstrators chanted slogans against the provincial government of Sindh and the federal authorities, including Prime Minister Imran Khan. Speakers at the protest opined that people of all schools of thought in Pakistan should stand with the victims as it is the responsibility of the state to provide housing to the citizens and ensure that they are not deprived of such housing as they might already have.

Addressing the protest, Awami Workers Party leader and activist Ammar Rashid said that property prices in the country are increasing day by day and people are longing for housing as it becomes increasingly out of their reach, while the state is snatching homes from people. Rashid further said that the current situation in the country is such that there is an urgent need for land reforms but that such measures should be done not only in rural areas but also in urban areas.

Ammar Rashid further said, “Today when there are protests against Bahria Town, there is a trend in favor of Bahria Town on Twitter – as if Bahria Town itself were oppressed!” He emphasized that the country needs a new development model where people can be assured housing and employment.

Addressing the demonstration, political activist Mumtaz Ahmed Arzo said that the South Asian Subcontinent and this country is the only region where ‘qabza’ (land occupation) groups operate in such a manner. “This country has been under occupation for the last 73 years, but we are not united in raising our voices against these occupation groups,” he added.

Addressing the protest, a political activist said that whenever lands are seized in the country and houses are snatched from the people, the police support the oppressors instead of the oppressed – and this means that the police do not belong to the people. “Instead, it belongs to Bahria Town and Malik Riaz,” the protester said.

Protesters chanted slogans taking aim at the Prime Minister, such as “Break the Gujjar Nala, save Bani Gala.” Moreover, the protesters said that if such ‘atrocities’ continue, there will be a nationwide protest in the coming days.

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