Criminalising the peaceful protest

The registration of a FIR against DHA residents for organising the protest against Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and Clifton Cantonment Board (CBC) is disturbing. It seems an attempt to criminalise the protest.

Peaceful protest and freedom of expression is a constitutional right. The DHA Karachi residents exercised their constitutional right and raised their voice against DHA and CBC for failing to provide the promised services. Instead of improving their services and addressing the grievances and complaints of residents, the officials of CBC decided to launch FIR against the affected residents. 

Their anger is understandable because they spend nearly 4 days without electricity and flooded houses. The flooding in parts of DHA Karachi caused damage to houses, cars and other valuable at homes. It was not a pleasant experience.

The management of DHA and CBC utterly failed to fulfill their responsibilities. They failed to pump out the rain water and to provide other services. Instead of sympathetically listening to the grievances and concerns of DHA residents, CBC lodged a First Information report (FIR) against them on charges of "ransacking" its office, using "inappropriate language" against state institutions, spreading fear, harassing officials and creating hindrances in official work.

The police immediately registered a criminal case against peaceful protestors. Some people might have shown some aggression against pathetic attitude and inaction of CBC. But it was an excuse for CBC to register a criminal case against. It seems an attempt by the CBC officials to suppress and harass the people fighting for their basic rights. It is a pressure tactics to silent the protesting residents. Such tactics will not help the DHA management in the long run.

What happened during and after the rain is enough to tarnish the image of DHA Karachi. DHA is the biggest brand and name in real estate business in Pakistan. People trust the name of defence institution. Such reckless response and dirty tactics will bring bad name to the leading brand.

The Sindh government must not side with CBC and instead must support the residents. The CBC officials are not seemed in the mood to listen to the complaints and grievances of residents. The Sindh government must assure that this case must not be used to harass and intimidate the protestors. This FIR clearly shows the state of mind of public officials. They consider themselves above the law and accountability. They get angry when asked about their responsibilities.

The residents of DHA Karachi have moved to the Sindh High Court against this FIR. TheARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD

TheThe court has granted pre-arrest bail to at least 22 people who protested outside the CBC last week against the lack of action by the departments concerned.

The petition termed the registration of the FIR against at least 22 residents who protested "peacefully" in front of the CBC's Karachi office earlier this week as "malicious".

"A malicious FIR has been lodged against at least 22 residents who had attended the demonstration on the basis of completely false and unsubstantiated charges, including 'raising of slogans against state institutions', 'terrorising government officials' and 'stopping relief works'," it said.

"The FIR is a malicious and undisguised attempt to threaten, intimidate and subdue the residents and prevent them from exercising their constitutional rights."

Meanwhile, residents gathered outside the DHA Karachi Head Office on Thursday to register their protest against the post-rain situation in the locality, as some areas remain waterlogged.

Containers were placed on some of the roads leading to the office while male and female police officials in riot gear were deployed at the site of the protest.

                                         The Editor



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