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In support of Comrade Gulam Rasool Sehto, Anna Hazare of Sindh

ISLAMABAD: Veteran peasant leader Comrade Ghulam Rasool Sehto’s hunger strike has completed 100 days but Pakistan government, Sindh government, political parties (PPP, MQM, ANP, PML-N etc) and judiciary seem unmoved. Comrade Sehto is head of Sindh Hari Committee (SHC) and has launched a ‘hunger strike till death’ to protest against unchecked and massive water theft by influential feudals.

Sehto, 65, belongs to Mehrabpur, Hyderabad. Accompanied by affected farmers, Sehto is protesting against the diversion of water by influential feudals backed by local members of national and provincial assemblies for the past 20 years.

He has also vowed to highlight the scam of 41,000 ghost primary schools and their 100,000 teachers throughout Sindh. Comrade Sahto has set up his hunger strike camp in front of National Press Club after he staged such a protest in various cities of Sindh. “Islamabad is the last destination that I will leave after getting justice; otherwise, my body will go back to Sindh,” he said.

Sahto, who does not own even a single inch of irrigation land, has also written an open letter to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for a suo moto action against the Waderas involved in water theft.

The Sindhi leader, along with his companions, spent 88 days of hunger strike in Khairpur. “I am determined not to end the protest till justice is provided to my poor farmer colleagues.”

At least 300,000 acres of land in Khairpur and around 3,000,000 acres all over Sindh is presently without water despite having a canal system. “The reason is that the influential people use the entire water before it reaches the lands owned by the small farmers.”

Sehto told news reporters that over 300,000 acres of agricultural land had been destroyed due to shortage of water and non-functional tubewells in Khairpur district. He said poor farmers could not fight the powerful feudal lords who have stopped the water to their land. “I came from Khairpur on Eid day in an ambulance to register my protest in the federal capital for the past almost two weeks.”

Talking about the hardships small farmers have to face, Sehto claimed the irrigation system of Sindh has been destroyed. Local MPAs and MNAs in connivance with irrigation officials steal water, resulting in the destruction of billions of acres. He said of the 645 tubewells installed in Khairpur in 60s, only 100 were functional.

The veteran Hari leader regretted the apathy and inaction of the government and the judiciary. “Why doesn’t the chief justice take suo motu action of this; isn’t it a public interest issue when the future of hundreds of thousands of farmers is at stake?” he questioned. “I have sent an application to the Supreme Court requesting the chief justice to take action, otherwise I have no option but to continue my struggle to save the land of Sindh and to protect its farmers,” he added.

Zamir Hussain Sehto, another affected farmer from Khairpur also criticised influential landowners for depriving them of their share of the water. “The basic aim of the hunger strike is to inform people about the harsh realities in Sindh, where small farmers are being exploited.” He said the struggle would continue till their demands are fulfilled.
The activist said he twice called off his strike, the first time after 17 days and then after 31 days upon assurances given by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah.

Repeated attempts to contact MNA Dr Nafisa Shah, who belongs to Khairpur and is Sindh chief minister’s daughter, were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile Awami Party Pakistan leader Ayub Malik described Sehto as the Gandhi of Pakistan for continuing his hunger strike for so long and vowed to support the haris struggle. He condemned the government and the judiciary for their indifferent attitude and inaction towards the genuine problems of the people.

Talking to media persons, Sahto alleged that influential politicians were in stealing the water share of the tail ends with the help of Sindh Irrigation Department officials.

Reposing no-confidence in the current system, he said that police were disobeying court orders and contributing to the collapse of the irrigation system in Pakistan in general and in Sindh in particular.

Sahto said that politicians are also cutting forests in Sindh to make lands cultivatable, which is going unnoticed. He told the press that Sindh has so far lost its forests on close to 3.6 million acres. “Three million acres of tail-end areas has dried up and the crops worth billions of rupees are at risk if water was not supplied at the earliest,” he warned.

He revealed that districts banned for growing paddy are now growing the crop in violation of orders. “Sindh’s second largest cotton belt, Ghotki, is again facing problem from paddy growers and there has been no action,” he said.
Mismanagement of water under the pressure of powerful landlords located at the heads of channels is the main reason for the artificial water shortage in tail-end areas while officials of Irrigation Department have made fortunes in the process, he said. Sahto said that Rs 440 million have been approved for the upkeep of 645 tubewells in different areas while the fact is that only 100 are working.

He called upon the Supreme Court to intervene in the matter and save hundreds of thousands of starving farmers.

He also urged the chief justice to take note of the issue of ghost schools in Sindh. Out of 49,000 schools, 41,000 have been closed, Sindhi farmers’ children remain without education, while over 8,000 teachers of the ghost schools are receiving salaries with the connivance of officials of Education Department, which is pushing province into Stone Age.

Urdu article (BBC Urdu):

پاکستان کے انا ہزارے
حسن مجتبیٰ

بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، نیویارک
آخری وقت اشاعت: جمعـء 7 ستمبر 2012

نومبر انیس سو چھیانوے میں جب اس وقت کے صدر فاروق لغاری نے بے نظیر بھٹو کی حکومت ختم کی تو ٹنڈو جام، ٹنڈو اللہ یار، اور نوابشاہ کے ساٹھ میل کے علاقوں میں نہری پانی کے آخری چھیڑوں پر رہنے والے لوگوں کا پہلا ردعمل یہ تھا کہ وہ کدالیں لے کر نکلے اور حکومت کے اتحادی زمینداروں کی زمینوں پر بنائے ہوئے ناجائز واٹر کورسوں کو توڑ ڈالا، کہ ان سے ان کی زمینوں کو ملنے والا پانی چرایا جاتا تھا۔
بدلتا ہے رنگ آسماں کیسے کیسے۔۔۔

اب آصف علی زرداری صدر ہیں۔ سید قائم علی شاہ سندھ کے وزیر اعلٰی ہیں۔ لیکن ان کے اپنے ضلع خیرپور میرس میں نہروں کے آخری چھیڑے یا پوچھڑی پر رہنے والے ہاریوں اور چھوٹے آباد کاروں کی زمینوں کا پانی سے بااثر زمینداروں کی طرف سے محکمۂ آبپاشی کے کرپٹ انجنیئروں اور اہل کاروں کی ملی بھگت سے چوری ہو رہا ہے۔ اس کے نتیجے میں کوئی ستائیس ہزار ایکڑ زمینیں بنجر ہو رہی ہے، جس کے خلاف احتجاج کرنے کے لیے سندھ کے ہاری رہنما اور سابقہ بائيں بازو کے معروف سیاسی کارکن غلام رسول سہتو اسلام آباد میں تادم مرگ بھوک ہڑتال پر ہیں۔ غلام رسول سہتو پاکستان کے انا ہزارے ہیں۔

خیرپور میرس کے کسانوں کی یہ زمینیں جن میں خود غلام رسول سہتو کا ایک چپہ زمین بھی نہیں، سوکھے کا وہ منظر پیش کرتی ہیں جن کی وجہ سے بھارت کی ریاستوں آندھرا پردیش اور بہار میں کسانوں نے خودکشیاں کی تھیں۔ بالکل فلم ’پیپلی لائيو‘ والا منظر ہے لیکن یہاں اس موضوع پر فلم بنانے والی انوشا رضوی موجود نہیں۔

غلام رسول سہتو نے سندھ کے وزیر اعلٰی کے اپنے ضلع (جسےاتنا شاید قائم علی شاہ نہ جانتے ہوں جتنا غلام رسول سہتو جانتے ہیں) کی نہروں پر پوچھڑی یا آخری چھیڑے پر آباد کسانوں کے معاشی قتل عام کے خلاف مرنے کی گھڑی تک بھوک ہڑتال کی ٹھان لی۔ اب اس کو ایک سو دن ہونے کو ہیں۔

اگر غلام رسول سہتو جان سے گزر گئے تو پھر پی پی پی کی حکومت کے کھاتے میں جی ایم سید کے دورانِ نظربندی انتقال کرجانے کے بعد یہ دوسرا واقعہ درج ہو جائے گا۔

شاید غلام رسول سہتو سندھ کا بوبی سینڈس بن جائے۔ اس سے قبل جب خیرپور میرس کے پھول باغ میں (جہاں فاطمہ جناح سے لے کر ذوالفقار علی بھٹو تک جلسے کرتے رہے ہیں) میں ساٹھ ستر دن تادم مرگ بھوک ہڑتال گزرجانے کے بعد بھی جب حکومت اور میڈیا (سوائے سندھی میڈیا کے ) میں سے کسی نے نوٹس نہیں لیا تو غلام رسول سہتو نے اشک بار آنکھوں سے ایمبولنس میں اسلام آباد کا رخ کیا۔

“خیرپور میرس کے کسانوں کی یہ زمینیں سوکھے کا وہ منظر پیش کرتی ہیں جن کی وجہ سے بھارت میں کسانوں نے خودکشیاں کی تھیں۔ بالکل فلم ’پیپلی لائيو‘ والا منظر ہے، پر یہاں کو‏ئی اس پر فلم کی بنانے والی انوشا رضوی موجود نہیں۔”

دہلی میں سرمد کا کیا کام؟ یہاں عدلیہ اور حکومت کی رسہ کشی سے کسی کو فرصت ہو تو غلام رسول سہتو کی تادمِ مرگ بھوک ہڑتال اور خیرپور میرس کے کسانوں کے معاشی قتلِ عام کی طرف دیکھے۔

نیز یہ کہ محمکۂ انہار کے بدعنوان لیکن لمبے ہاتھ والوں کے خلاف کون حرکت میں آئے گا کہ محکمۂ انہاراور روڈز کے ایگزیکیٹو انجنیئر کی پوسٹنگ کا مطلب ہے کہ ایک ایم این اے اور دو ایم پی اے ایز کی انتخاباتی مہم کے اخراجات پورے ہونا۔
سندھ میں تو ایک ایسا بھی انجینیئرگزرا ہے جو ایک مرحوم وزیر اعظم کے انتخابات کا خرچہ اٹھایا کرتا تھا!

میں نے غلام رسول سہتو کو آج سے تیس سال پہلے اس وقت دیکھا تھا جب ان کے ساتھی انہیں گاندھی کہہ کر پکار رہے تھے۔ آج وہ قتیل شفائی کے اس شعر کی تفسیر بنے ہوئے ہیں:

میں ریت کے دریا پہ کھڑا سوچ رہا ہوں
اس شہر میں پانی تو یزیدوں نے پیا ہے

Video: Farmers protesting in favour of Comrade Ghulam Rasool Sahito (June 2012)

Sources:

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-129992-Sindh-has-its-own-Anna-Hazare-on-hunger-strike

http://tribune.com.pk/story/430329/excesses-of-feudals-peasant-leaders-longest-hunger-strike-for-rights/

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/print.asp?page=2012%5C08%5C29%5Cstory_29-8-2012_pg11_6

http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2012/09/120907_ghulam-rasul_sehto_zis.shtml

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Abdul Nishapuri

4 Comments

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  • This one is from ET (1 Aug 2012):

    64 and counting: Farmers refuse to take the bait on their fourth hunger strike
    By Mithal Khuhro
    Published: August 1, 2012

    Their main demands included shutting down illegal water courses set up by feudal in the Kacha areas and reopening tube wells. PHOTO: FILE

    KHAIRPUR: Comrade Ghulam Rasool Sehto, popularly known as the Anna Hazare of Sindh, has been on a hunger strike with his friends for the last 64 days to bring attention towards to the issues farmers face.

    Sehto, who is over 60 years old, is known for his loud laugh. He was an active member of the Communist Party and was the owner and editor of a Sindhi newspaper.
    Comrade Sehto has been active in participating in several other movements to support the poor and bring attention t their plight.
    He began to campaign for the rights of farmers of his district, Khairpur, in 2004 when he and some of the other farmers organised on a hunger strike. It continued for 17 days and was called off after the then provincial minister, Nadar Akmal Laghari, sent a team to him to assure Sehto that the farmers’ issues will be resolved.
    Their main demands included shutting down illegal water courses set up by feudal in the Kacha areas and reopening tube wells. The team also assured Sehto that 12 water courses in Sobho Dero taluka will be given water. But promises remained promises. The farmers organised a hunger strike again in 2006, outside the Khairpur Press Club.
    They vowed to continue their protest even if they died from hunger. This protest continued longer than the first – 31 days. A delegation of ministers and MPAs, who included Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, former home minister Manzoor Wasan, Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, MNA Dr Mehreen Bhutto, Ghinwa Bhutto, the later chairman of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, Bashir Khan Qureshi and others visited the farmers and also took part in their protest.
    The strike ended when the now president of Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, Pir Saddaruddin Shah Rashidi, sent a some people to request the farmers to end the strike.
    The third strike was organised in 2008. It was held outside the Sukkur Press Club and also continued for 31 days. It ended after MNA Nafeesa Shah reassured the protesters that their demands would be entertained.
    Finally, Sehto’s efforts bore fruit and over the last three years the government released Rs44 million for the farmers and reopened scarp tube wells – they drain water from water-logged areas. However, not a single rupee reached the farmers.
    Protesting again, it has been 65 days since Comrade Sehto’s team put any food in their mouths. They believe that more than 30 water channels are acutely short of water and while over 450 scarp tubewells are closed, turning over two million acres of land barren. The farmers say that such a shortage will destroy the whole district economically.
    The chief secretary of irrigation department paid a visit to the farmers in Bhool Bagh, with the deputy commissioner of Khairpur, 16 days ago. He requested them to end the strike. But this time the farmers asked to be provided with water first.
    Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2012.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/415611/64-and-counting-farmers-refuse-to-take-the-bait-on-their-fourth-hunger-strike/

  • gyes this AbdulNishapuri’s brothers and father was arrested in rap case last year and he is here to build Pakistan.

  • Thanks LUBP for such a nice article

    Mr Faizan!Pl do not do such baseless propaganda

    LUBP is Lamp post in journalism

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