Hundreds of peasant women were prevented by police at different districts
in Punjab to attend the protest demonstration on the eve of 8th March 2002.Police had blockade the main roads leading to Lahore to stop women reaching at
the venue. The demonstration was called by Women Workers Help Line and ladies
wing of Anjaman Mozareen Punjab AMP (Tenants organization Punjab).
25 women at Manga Mandi police station were detained for over three hours. 6
coaches of the peasant women were also stopped at the outer side of Manga
Mandi, 30 kilometers from Lahore. Two buses were stopped at another point at
Wah Radha Ram, some 70 kilometer from Lahore. Two buses were not allowed to
enter Lahore at Shahdra just outside Lahore. Such incidents were reported at
Sarghoda, Faisalabad, Okara and Khaniwal.
Despite all the efforts of the police over 500 reached at Lahore where they
were not allowed to leave the place to hold the demonstration. At Shimla
Pehari of Lahore hundreds of policemen were at full alert to stop the women
coming out of the park where they were to gather as a starting point of
demonstration. A protest meeting at the park was held.
Speaking on the occasion, Azra Shad, chairperson WWHL told the gathering
that police have stopped us with force but they can stop us demanding land
ownership rights. She said police behavior with the demonstration exposed the
dictatorial nature of the military regime despite all its claims of being
liberal. She said working class women are in full solidarity with the peasant women
in their struggle for ownership rights of the land.
Romana Shabnum a city counselor spoke of the courage of peasant women and
urged for a greater unity of the working class to fight the exploitation.
Farooq Tariq and Shoaib Bhatti, general secretary and chairman of Labour
Party Pakistan demanded the arrest of the military officer involved in the
killing of a peasant leader. They told the gathering that LPP will fight shoulder
to shoulder with the peasants. “ We must get rid of the politics of the rich
and join the party that fight for your rights” they told the jubilant peasant
and worker women and men present in the meeting.
Leaders of AMP also spoke on the occasion. On the invitation of the
administration and police secretary to governor of Punjab received a four-member
delegation at governor house. They handed over a petition demanding that 68000
acres land should be handed over to them as they are cultivating it for over
100 years. They also demanded that a murder case should be registered against
Colonel Mohammed Ali who was responsible for the killing of Mohammed
Bashir, a peasant leader on 7th January 2002.
Hundreds of women at Manga Mandi, where the police stopped them, refused to
go back for few hours until the LPP leaders come and speak to them. Speaking
here at 5.30pm, Farooq Tariq paid great tribute to the courage of the peasant
women who are ready for any sacrifices. He said, LPP would not leave them
alone in this hour of need. He said it is an insult of the international day of
women done by military regime that working class women were not allowed to
take out the demonstration and busses were stopped.
Here LPP leaders made strong representation to the Assistant Superintendent
of police for stopping women to go to Lahore. The ASP had nothing to say.
The leaders of AMP and LPP are addressing a press conference tomorrow to
tell the press the inhuman behavior of police with the peasant women at
different areas of Punjab.