More on Peasant Rights Rally – ‘The News’ reports

Covering the recent Sindhi peasant rights rally, The News mentions TIP and its support for this noble cause in good words:

Haris demand rights, not just freedom
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
By Urooj Zia

DEH JORIGI: The peasants who are part of the long march for land reforms are demanding their “due rights, and not just freedom.”

“There’s a difference between the two terms,” they explained. “When a Wadera (feudal lord) fears legal repurcussions, he sets Haaris free, but he does not give them what is due to them. He hopes that they will be so happy to not be bonded to him any more, they will simply get up and go to a camp, like they usually do. We don’t want just freedom. We want our rights too, we want to own the land, we want our due share in the produce, we want to be treated with dignity.”

The participants of the march are primarily demanding amendments in the Sindh Land and Tenancy Act, which will give them much of what they are asking for. They are also asking for the establishment of Haari courts where anyone should be allowed to represent them, instead of just licensed lawyers.

The march was organised by South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP Pakistan), Sindh Hari Porhiat Council (SHPC) and Bhandar Hari Sangat (BHS). A majority of the participants of the march are landless peasants from Sindh. The procession started from Hyderabad on February 15 from the tomb of Baba-e-Sindh (father of Sindh) Haider Bux Jatoi and will culminate on February 26 in Karachi with a sit-in in front of the Sindh Assembly building.

On Sunday night, the marchers were hosted in Dhabeji by the local leadership of the Jiyay Sindh Qaumi Mahaaz (JSQM). On Monday, day nine of the march, the procession left Dhabeji around 10:30 am, and finally entered the outskirts of Karachi.

At various stops along the way, they were received grandly by JSQM leaders and members. The first major stop of the day was after lunch at the Textile Institute of Pakistan (TIP), where they were warmly welcomed by TIP heads, faculty and students. Many of the latter seemed like they wanted to sit down and speak with the Haaris, but were too shy to do so, and not knowing any Sindhi, thought the Haaris would not understand Urdu, much to the amusement of many participants of the march. The most memorable stop for the day was near Deh Joregi, a couple of kilometres from TIP.

At this stop, the procession was given a grand reception by JSQM (Basheer Khan group) head, Basheer Khan Qureshi. JSQM members turned out in large numbers, so much so that the procession swelled to twice its usual size. After a round of speeches denouncing the tribal system in Sindh, capitalism and the oppression of landless peasants and demanding rights for the latter, the marchers moved on. Along the way, they were given a two-car escort by TIP faculty, and an eight-bike escort by local JSQM members. The massive rally was en route towards Ghaggar Phattak, the final stop for the night, till the time this report was filed.