The activists were protesting the demolition of leased houses
The Gulberg police have released five members of the Karachi Bachao Tehreek, who were detained for resisting the Gujjar nullah anti-encroachment operation Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday, a team of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s anti-encroachment department reached Farooq-e-Azam Colony in FB Area Block-12 with heavy machinery to demolish houses built along the drain.
KBT Convener Khurram Ali, Abid Asghar and others reached the site too. They told KMC staff that the residents have filed a case in an anti-encroachment tribunal, which is likely to stay the demolition of houses. KBT members said the tribunal has sought replies from the authorities on April 14 and till then, the demolition of certain houses be postponed.
KMC staffers told KBT representatives they were not demolishing the houses whose owners had been granted a stay. But the demolition of houses mentioned by KBT members had not been stayed, they noted.
There was a heated exchange between the two sides, after which KMC officials called the police. The Gulberg police reached the spot and took KBT Convener Khurram Ali, Abid Asghar, Bashir, Shayan and Sheeraz into custody.
Ali told SAMAA Digital that they went to Farooq-e-Azam Colony to support the residents in their efforts to save their homes.
“I told them that the residents have pasted the notices issued to the authorities on their houses and requested them to spare these houses for two days,” he said.
The KBT convener accused KMC staffers of threatening them of dire consequences before calling the police to arrest them.
KMC Anti-Encroachment Department Deputy Director Masroor Iqbal said the staff was busy with the anti-encroachment drive when some people came and tried to stop it.
“One of them namely Khurram (the KBT convener) told me to show him notice of the demolition of houses and I asked him why I should show him the notice since he was not a resident of the area,” he said.
Iqbal said he told them that they would not touch the houses on which the court had granted a stay, but they could not spare the rest.
Khurram and his colleagues attacked KMC staffers and he had no option but to call the police, he added.
The police, however, released KBT representatives later on the assurance that that they would not take the law into their hands or obstruct the government business again.
Residents of FB Area Block-12 and Block-17 filed a case in an anti-encroachment tribunal on April 3, requesting it to stop the KMC from demolishing their houses built on “leased land”.
They said that their plots had been lawfully leased by the land-owning agencies and they built their houses after fulfilling all formalities.
The tribunal has summoned the Sindh chief secretary, Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority director general, KMC administrator, KMC anti-encroachment director and District Central deputy commissioner along with written replies regarding the demolition of houses in these areas.
The KMC has been working on widening the Gujjar nullah. It is one of the three stormwater drains that are to be widened to ensure a smooth flow of rainwater. The other two are the Mehmoodabad and Orangi nullahs.
The Sindh government decided to remove encroachments around these drains following the August 2020 urban floods in the city.