Convention and Rally of Tenants

 
30-01-2021 by: Younis Iqbal

    Main     

 

 

Convention and Rally of Tenants 10th December, 2002
Mehfil Auditorium, Abbot Road, Lahore

Speakers:

His Excellency Msgr. Lawrence John Saldanha Archbishop of Lahore and President of Catholic Bishop Conference Pakistan Aftab Alexander Mughal, Director Justice and Peace Commission of Pakistan, Multan Shah Taj Qazalbash, Chairperson Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights (JAC) Mehboob Khan, Senior Advocate, High Court & Legal Advisor, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Asim Sajjad, Coordinator People’s Rights Movement Talib Hussain,Member of Provincial Assembly (Punjab) Taimur Rehman, General Secretary, Mazdoor Kisan Party Irfan Mufti, Programme Director, South Asian Partnership, Pakistan Farouk Tariq, Secretary General, Labour Party Pakistan Faizan Kareem, President AMP Khanewal Zone

At the International Day of Human Rights, Anjuman Muzareen Punjab organised a convention at Mehfil Auditorium, Abbot Road, Lahore. Tenants from villages and farms of all Punjab participated in a great number.
Labour Party Pakistan, Mazdoor Kisan Party and other social organisations also participated in the convention. People started gathering at the venue and soon the auditorium was filled. Fr. Albert Youhana and Dr. Christopher John hosted the convention. Poets from villages read poems which beautifully depicted the role of injured, deceased and arrested members of AMP, and also the brutal role of army and police. Their poems strengthened the spirit of the movement. Some of the leading poets were, Ulfat Dildar, Ghulam Mustafa, etc.

The injured, relatives of arrested and martyred were called on the stage and were greeted by the participants with a big round of applause for their unforgettable share in the struggle.

Fakhar, son of Khushi Mohammad Dola, who was arrested by rangers for 20 days told his story and said that I was stopped when I was returning home from work. The rangers told me about an F.I.R of theft registered against me which I had no idea about. They then asked me to go with them. Instead of taking me to the police station I was presented before Major Khataq. He asked the reason for not signing the contract “Thaiqa” and when I denied to sign, he told the policemen to put me in dark room for 6 months so that I could be frightened. But I decided that neither I am going to sign the contract and nor I am going to tell them anything about my fellow tenants because they asked me about my father, Liaquat, James. But I told them that I know nothing about them and even if I do, I just can’t tell you because I cannot betray my people. While I was in the jail, they tortured me in such ways which are against the morality and cannot be told; they even did not let me say the Friday prayers. They made me call home and threatened to shoot me if I don’t sign the contract.

Chauhdhary Bashir injured by the firing of rangers told the story about how he got injured. He said that rangers came with heavy armaments, we tried to start dialogue but they never listened and opened fire and I got a bullet in my foot. They kept us encircled for 3 days without food and water. I was in agony in the hospital but was unable to get medical care for a long time, during that time I told my family that whether I die or live the struggle must go on. Chauhdhary Bashir had tears in his eyes as he was telling his story.

Paternal Uncle of martyr Suleman Masih gave his view in the form of a beautiful poem. His poem aimed at the continuation of struggle no matter how many more lives we loose. Only the right of ownership can stop this struggle.

Maulwi Yousaf, Vice President AMP, Lahore Zone welcomed his fellow tenants from other farms and said that we will continue the struggle till the last drop of blood. We have no discrimination among us which will get us through this struggle.

Mr. Younis Iqbal, Chairman AMP, welcomed the guests and gave a brief introduction / background of the movement and organisation. The details are as follows:

At the beginning of the 20th Century, the colonial administration founded agricultural research, livestock, and dairy farms across approximately 68,000 acres of the land throughout. Indeed, much of the land was covered by forest. Both Christian and Muslim families from districts such as Narowal and Sialkot were forcibly migrated to the prospective locations where the construction of these farms were beginning planned and were given the task of clearing and then tilling the land. They were promised permanent ownership of the land once they had succeeded in making it productive, with the assistance of irrigation channels built by the British, as well as natural water sources they already existed. This was the same year in which tenants tilling irrigated land were given owner of the land once they had succeeded in making it productive, with the assistance of irrigation channels built by the British, as well as natural water sources that already existed. This was the same era in which tenants tilling irrigated land were given ownership rights across Punjab.

The original settlers succeeded in making the land productive after much hardship, but the promise of ownership rights was to remain elusive. A variety of names were given to these farms and they were quickly registered as state – owned. At the time of partition in 1947, ownership rights were not granted to the tenants, while refugees who had come across from India were given ownership rights. In 1952, government initiatives to allot land excluded the tenant farmers as well. Till this day, the tenants are struggling for permanent rights to the land they have tilled for almost a century now.

The rangers and police have arrested numerous tenants, martyred 6 tenants and have registered more than 150 bogus cases of anti state activities and terrorism against tenants.

A group from Toba Tek Singh performed a stage play in which they portrayed beautifully the brutality carried out by state and gave the message of continuous struggle.

COMMENTS:

Different speakers present at the convention spoke for the cause and gave their view and showed their support towards AMP. The details are as follows:

His Excellency Msgr. Lawrence John Saldanha (President Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Pakistan)

His Excellency Msgr. Lawrence John Saldanha in his address said, “Today it’s the day of human rights and tenants have the right that they should be given ownership rights. I have been aware of your struggle for sometime and I know that the struggle is righteous, because the tenants are cultivating the land for the last more than 100 years. Now the time has come that the right should be given to them.” At this the participants raised slogans. He also said, “My presence here is the sign that all the religious leaders are with you and the reason is that your struggle is just. I salute those who lost their lives and whose relatives are here, they gave their lives for the cause, and I think that their sacrifice will not go in vain but will be fruitful one day. I am very happy because in this struggle Christians and Muslims are together on one platform, and it is very strong example of unity. I want to congratulate you for continuation of your struggle in spite of the hurdles that you have been facing. I would like to salute the women because they have set an example in the history of Pakistan as well as the World, that they can join men equally in the struggle. The United Nations is also aware of your struggle and now you are not alone but the world is with you because your cause is noble. I at this point raise my voice with you and ask the government to grant your ownership right that they have deprived you of for so many years. It is your right and you will definitely win this struggle one day. May God Bless You All.”

Aftab Alexander Mughal

He said, “I salute the tenants for carrying on the struggle even in the absence of food, water, electricity, etc. It is the first time that women have raised their voices against state and are clutching to the cause. The land belongs to the people who cultivated it. I demand the state to release the prisoners and to form a commission which will look into the matter justly. If the present commission was true and just, why did they take the dead body of Suleman Masih for post-mortem? As long as the state does not form a neutral commission, we will keep on condemning the state for its brutal and unjust behaviour.”

Shah Taj Qazalbash

She appreciated the role of women in the movement and said that she salutes the women’s strong determination. She added that she does not trust the government for giving us our rights nicely; therefore we will keep on struggling till the end and women’s share is and will be considered vital for the purpose.

Mehboob Khan

He said, “I came here to support your enthusiasm but to see the mass together for one single purpose i.e. ownership, my enthusiasm has boosted. I think your movement is one of the most important because you are fighting for a just cause.” He also appreciated the women for playing a strong and vital role in the struggle. He said that presence of women has proved that no matter what the sex, religion or cast is, the tenants are together for this just cause and they surely will get their right.

Asim Sajjad

Asim Sajjad said, “I consider myself lucky for being a part of AMP and its struggle. My message is that no matter what happens the struggle must go on.” He also talked about organisational structure and its importance and emphasized that it is high time for AMP to become an organisation. He also said that AMP should also focus on creating liaison with other organisations so as to strengthen the movement.

Talib Hussain

Talib Hussain said, “I am happy to see you here fighting for the cause. I salute the martyrs. I strongly believe that if a movement is garnished with blood of martyrs, the success of that struggle is obvious.” He also said that you cannot live as tenants all your lives; you have a right to flourish. He promised to raise the matter in the assembly. He also said, “I will fulfil my duty as you demand me to. And I also expect the government to support the cause and give tenants their right.”

Irfan Mufti

He said, “I came to know about the movement and I thought the people who gave sacrifices for Pakistan are now the oppressed and weak. The state is wrong at this point and will definitely fail because we are all together for the cause. The state should understand that as long as the farmer of the country is unhappy and unsure of his condition, the country is impossible to prosper. I ask the government to forget the greed and make the farmer happy. AMP should also make liaison with other movements fighting for their rights.”

Farooq Tariq

He said, “First of all I would like to salute the martyrs and injured of the movement, secondly I would like to salute those who are in jails. I met Anwar Javed Dogar and he is being forced to sign, withdraw from the movement and present a written excuse but he said that he will die but not sign the agreement. Thirdly I salute all the participants of the movement. Fourthly I salute to those who are ready to give their life. The state thought that with brutality, arrests, killings, they can stop the movement but the movement is still alive and all you people present here are a clear proof of it. The state tried to stop the tenants from gathering in Lahore, but forces are not stopped like this. I say, if the right is not decently given to us, we are to get it forcibly. The state pronounces Sattar as a criminal, if he is a criminal, then I am a bigger criminal than him because I too am fighting for the noble cause.” He too pointed out the importance of alliance with other organisations.

Taimur Rehman

Taimur Rehman fully supported AMP for their cause and said that we are also against this brutal system. He said that MKP (Mazdoor Kisan Party) is a member organisation of AMP. He said that our fight is against the system that is depriving us from our right.

Faizan Kareem

She demanded the president the release of prisoners (we tenants) which have been cultivating the land of state for the last 100 years and filling their pockets and houses. She also said that when a woman asks Lord for his rage, then people like Musharraf have nowhere to run.

Formation of the organisational Structure

After the comments from members present, new organisational structure of Anjuman Muzareen Punjab was formed. Following are the details:

Names Designation

Younas Iqbal Chairman

Christopher John General Secretary

Khushi Mohammad Dola President

Chauhdhary Ashraf Vice President

Aqeela Naz Joint Secretary

Asha Ameer Ali Communication Secretary

After the procession President Mr. Khushi Mohammad Dola was arrested and Chauhdhary Ashraf was elected as president.

In the end newly elected president of AMP Khushi Mohammad Dola thanked the participants and honourable guests for their support.

Rally and Arrest of Khushi Mohammad Dola

After the convention a rally was organised which started off at Qila Gujar Singh, and was supposed to go till the Lahore Press Club, but later on due to some unsuitable conditions, the rally took an alternate route from Qila Gujar Singh to Laxmi Chowk to GPO. More than 3 thousand participants raised slogans in favour of AMP “Malki yaa Maut”, meaning Ownership or death and “Jera wahway ohoi khaway” meaning the one who cultivates will eat. At the end Younas Iqbal, Christopher John, Khushi Mohammad Dola and Aqeela Naz presented memorandum to the Chief Justice Lahore High Court Lahore. He promised to forward the matter to the Government and help to get justice.

As the participants were coming back to Mehfil Auditorium after the rally to the buses that they came in, S.H.O. Meher Akmal, Okara Cantt. Police station and other policemen suddenly attacked Khushi Mohammad Dola and arrested him in an illegal manner. As a result the participants blocked the Abbot Road, in front of CIA Centre, Qila Gujar Singh for 4 hours and demanded the release of their member Khushi Mohammad Dola. But Lahore Police denied that they have no information about the arrest and said that Okara police never informed us, but tenants carried on with the protest. Other social and political organisations also joined hands with them. As a result, Lahore Police registered an F.I.R against Okara Police. Lahore police fully supported the protestors and admitted that tenants are fighting for their right and requested them to open the road. D.I.G Punjab through the present policemen assured that enquiry will be carried out against Okara Police. At this assurance the tenants opened the road and finished the protest.

Report prepared by:
Younis Iqbal
Chairman
Anjuman Muzareen Punjab
 
 

LABOUR PARTY  PAKISTAN

LPP (For a democratic socialist Pakistan)

For further inquiry please contact at labourparty@gmx.net

Introduction

Party Leadership

Magazine Campaigns Interviews Articles Contacts Links Photograph