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COMMENT: Have the poor no right to a peaceful protest in Sindh?

SAMAA | - Posted: Dec 13, 2017 | Last Updated: 3 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Dec 13, 2017 | Last Updated: 3 years ago
BY SHAHJAHAN KHURRAM KARACHI: It was quite shocking to see police spraying water to disperse unarmed farmers who had gathered at boat basin and planned to march on to Bilawal House to register a peaceful protest against the sugarcane rate set by the government. Was it justified to use force on farmers who had gathered...

BY SHAHJAHAN KHURRAM

KARACHI: It was quite shocking to see police spraying water to disperse unarmed farmers who had gathered at boat basin and planned to march on to Bilawal House to register a peaceful protest against the sugarcane rate set by the government. Was it justified to use force on farmers who had gathered to protest for their rights in a peaceful manner?

Pakistan Peoples Party has always positioned itself as a party that has stood up for the rights of the destitute and its leaders have claimed time and again that they are well-versed in the principles of democracy.

Why then, were farmers who had taken to the streets and planned to march on to Bilawal House to ensure their voice was heard regarding an issue they deemed important (considering it directly impacted their livelihood) baton charged by police and taken into custody?

For the life of me I cannot understand how dozens of poor farmers without sticks or stones to break any bones, were considered such a grave threat by the police and administration that they were treated in such a cruel and inhumane manner?

Just last month we saw two-and-a-half-thousand protesters hold the federal capital hostage for an entire month and when a clash ensued, injure more than 50 law enforcement personnel. The drop scene to the horrific saga was that all complicit in the hooliganism were released, their demands were met and (this by the way, is the most disappointing part) were even provided cash as fare to make it back to home from whence they had arrived to protest.

Pakistan Peoples Party is in power in Sindh where this atrocity has taken place and the farmers are still adamant on protesting till the government does not set a price that is considered suitable to them for sugercane. The issue at hand is not the bone of contention over which the two parties are locking horns--rather the government's lack of patience in dealing with it and its use of force.

Those who claim to be representatives of the public should deal with the issue at hand and negotiate with the farmers to come to an agreement. The government should only use force as a last resort, when all other options have been exhausted and when protesters are inclined towards violence.

As of yet, the farmers have not proved to be a threat to the government. Have the poor lost the right to peacefully protest for their rights in Sindh?

 
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