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Land grabbers: Women gather at the press club with tearful stories

Zeeshan Mujahid

KARACHI: “The land mafia first lured us into buying cheap plots. After the houses were constructed, they had us vacate them at gunpoint. They raped me and my sister-in-law for trying to resist and had false cases registered against us.” Noor Bibi, resident of Mehran Town, burst into tears as she told a gathering at the press club of her ordeal.

On Wednesday evening, former speaker Sindh Assembly Rahila Tiwana, now a central leader of the National Peoples Party’s (NPP) women’s wing, listened to Noor and other women who had been victimised by land grabbers.

The frail, poorly clothed women painted a sad picture as they spoke of their experiences at the hands of gun-toting men who all claimed to be associated with some political party or the other. “When I went to the area to hear complaints and look into the situation, I too was surrounded by armed men,” said Tiwana. “They made a public announcement that said if anyone came out and made a statement [to me], they will be dealt with severely once I left.”

Tiwana claims that these men hide behind political parties instead of political activists. “The police appear to either be in cahoots with them or are afraid of them as they have failed to protect these women.” They have lost every last penny and are now living in constant fear without a roof over their heads, she added.

Another victim told the press club of her madrassa where she taught over 300 children. She too was forced out of her school by armed men. When she tried to resist, she was abused. “I contacted everyone, including the police, but no one came to my rescue,” she said.

It appears that it is not only women from the lower class that are being targeted. The president of NPP, Karachi, also appealed to the authorities, asking them to recover her husband who has been missing for six years.

The NPP was bombarded with complaints within a few days of having activated its women’s complaint cell. The majority were from poor women being oppressed by the land mafia, Tiwana told reporters. She asked all political parties to make sure that no miscreants associate themselves with these parties when they are, in fact, land grabbers.

Source: The Express Tribune

Date:6/30/2011

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