KARACHI: Fishermen observed on Monday a hunger strike in front of the Karachi Press Club against the occupation of 600 freshwater bodies and lakes in Sindh.
The four-day hunger strike was being observed under the banner of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) in all districts of Sindh. Holding placards, a large number of women, children and men chanted slogans against Sindh Fisheries Minister Mohammad Ali Malkani and other feudals who have illegally occupied lakes in the province.
Speaking on the occasion, PFF chief Muhammad Ali Shah said fishermen in various districts of Sindh had been carrying out tireless and peaceful protests against the illegal occupation.
“The Sindh Assembly passed a law in 2011, declaring the occupation of freshwater bodies and lakes illegal, and abolished the contract system on all fresh water bodies in the province. But unfortunately, the minister of fisheries, instead of implementing the law, has himself occupied a historic lake in Thatta, snatching the rights of fishermen,” said Shah, adding that despite the law, the feudal lords, land grabbers and others are once again controlling more than 600 lakes in Sindh unlawfully.
Due to this, the fishermen and their families are being displaced from their indigenous fishing grounds.
PFF Secretary Saeed Baloch, while speaking to the media, referred to the encroachment on Baabli Lake in Sujawal and demanded that the illegal occupation by the fisheries minister and other land grabbers be immediately ended so that the indigenous fishermen can earn their living lawfully and freely.
During the hunger strike, the fishermen demanded of Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to remove Malkani from his post, who, according to them, is patronising the mafia in occupying the lakes.
“When we protested against Malkani, he ordered his goons to kidnap our chairperson and other activists. If the minister is not removed and the illegal occupation of the lakes does not end, thousands of fishermen from every nook and cranny of Sindh will gather outside CM House till their demands are met,” Baloch warned.
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