‘They fired on everyone’: threat to Pakistani village protesting giant luxury estate | Global development

Muhammad Anwar was unaware of any danger when he left work to join his friends in a demonstration at the construction site of a powerful real estate company.

When Anwar, 35, arrived on the west bank of the Langji River near Karachi earlier this month, he saw bulldozers land on the land adjacent to Bahria Town, a luxury development.

About 100 protesters were protesting against what they said was the forcible occupation of indigenous lands.

“We told them to stop working,” says Anwar. “They didn’t. We threw stones at the machinery to stop work. We were told to stop.” [or] Otherwise they will fire on us. They opened fire on everyone. When I was in the front row, I was shot.

Anwar was lucky to be shot in the stomach and face and his friends rushed him to the hospital. Like John Sher Jokhio, others were taken to the police station by Bahria Town guards. Jokio says he was beaten with a gun butt.

“We came together to save our land,” says Jokio. “We were beaten, dragged and injured and handed over to the police. I kept shouting at the police: ‘We should be taken to the hospital’, but no one Also did not pay attention until more people came to the police station.

Villagers rally to protest against Bahria Town Karachi development.
Villagers rally to protest against Bahria Town Karachi development. Photo: Zafar Masiani and Shah Mir Baloch / The Guardian

The local population has been opposing the Karachi project since its inception in 2014. The latest clashes erupted in April when workers resisted working to spread the residential complex to nearby villages.

Activists shared videos on social media with hashtags, including #SayNoToBahriaTown, and criticized the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its Sindh provincial government for supporting the real estate giant.

On April 30, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari asked Bahria Town and Sindh police to stop evictions in the villages. But Bulldozer 7 returnedIn addition to Anwar and Jokhio, 12 people were injured in May and protests against the development.

When the pressure on the government to work increased, the Chief Minister of Sindh Removed A senior police officer and an officer on duty. Police allegedly Arrested 13 Bahria Town security guards and staff accused of rioting, kidnapping and injuring villagers.

Allauddin, 32, (as the name implies) was at home on the morning of April 28 when he was told about the bulldozers and police arrived. A day earlier, guards working for Bahria Town told his family that the company wanted to build a road from its territory. Alauddin claims that he was told that if he did not agree to give up the land, it would be obtained by force.

“They destroyed my farmland and the plants, the wells from where we water our crops and use them for our homes,” says Allauddin.

A wall built by Bahria Town Karachi near Gabol village.
A wall built by Bahria Town Karachi near Gabol village. Photo: Zafar Masiani and Shah Mir Baloch / The Guardian

Communities in Malir District, Karachi, rely on agriculture for their livelihood.

Bahria Town is one of the largest private property developers in Asia, with construction projects in Pakistani cities. Its owner, Malik Riaz Hussain, has denied any involvement in the eviction. “Bahria Town has never been part of any illegal activity [do] We intend to be in the future Tweet.

In 2019, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) confiscated more than ین 190 million in assets from Hussein, including a 50 50 million Hyde Park mansion in London. The NCA said the deal did not represent a criminal investigation and that the money was returned to the Pakistani government.

Bahria Town Karachi is a gateway from the urban class to the elite of Pakistan. With its security and roads, it offers luxurious flats and amenities, including golf courses and Pakistan’s largest mosques.

Muhammad Amin in his factory and hotel - in Darya Khan Goth, the land on which he has lived for a century
Mohammad Amin says he was told by the company that Pakistan’s high court had agreed that the navy could take over his land. Photo: Zafar Masiani and Shah Mir Baloch / The Guardian

Muhammad Amin, a resident of a village adjacent to Tarqi, said he had been told by the company that Pakistan’s high court had agreed that the navy could take over its land.

In 2019, the court agreed that the company would pay local authorities 460bn (4.5bn) for 16,896 acres (6,838 hectares) of land in the district.

Amin says he was told by a Bahria Town representative that “if we don’t leave, they will pour dirty water into our lands and make life easier.”

Murad Bakhsh refused to give up his land in Gabol village, but says half was seized and he and his brothers were beaten.

Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah says those who attacked the villagers have been arrested. We are handling cases against Bahria Town and government officials. The government will protect them.

No one in Bahria Town has responded to the Guardian’s numerous requests for comment.

The magnificent mosque in Bahria Town Karachi, its toilets were built on a heritage site
Bahria Town Karachi has luxury flats and amenities including a golf course and one of the largest mosques in Pakistan. Photo: Zafar Masiani and Shah Mir Baloch / The Guardian

In a ___ Tweet Earlier this month, Hussein said that “influential politicians and the land mafia” who wanted to seize the land were blaming the company. “Legally, the allotted area is Bahria Town’s legal right.”

“Bahria Town has not illegally occupied any land. By law, if anyone proves that there is even an inch of land that does not belong to Bahria Town, we are prepared to take full responsibility. Bahria Town has always welcomed a free investigation and will continue to do so.

“Bahria Town is a gift to the people of Sindh. It has provided world-class lifestyles and infrastructure to lower middle class people. They have done their best to provide high quality facilities, security, schools, universities, hospitals, theme parks, zoos, road networks, water and electricity supply.

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