Desperate flood survivors turn to vandalism

SUKKUR: Hundreds of flood survivors, furious over a delay in the government’s Eid grant of Rs20,000 vented their anger by damaging shops, offices and vehicles during a violent protest on Minara Road and other areas on Wednesday.

“We have lost everything… our houses, cattle and land. Now, we are forced to live in relief camps,” said Khuda Bux Ogahi, one of the protesters. “We are getting food, water, medicine and clothes in the camps, but we still haven’t received the Eid grant, which was announced by the government.”

The protesters, mostly from the relief camps at Government Modern High School, Government Islamia Arts College and Commerce College, stormed the streets carrying sticks and stones.

The mob broke the windows of many shops in the area and damaged several cars and motorcycles. They attacked the PIA booking office and pelted stones at the Sukkur Electric Power Company office. Tyres were set ablaze at Stadium Roundabout, City Point, Military Road and other places, as the traffic between Sukkur and Rohri came to a halt.

The protesters also assaulted and injured shopkeepers, policemen as well as reporters, who were covering the event.

Many shops at the city’s main commercial centres such as Shahi Bazaar, Sarafa Bazaar, Ghanta Ghar Roundabout were attacked, forcing traders to shut down their businesses, while there were also reports that some shops were robbed.

Chanting slogans against the government, the protesters were headed towards the Clock Tower Roundabout, but Sukkur DSP Rizwan Soomro reached the spot and managed to convince them to end their protest after assuring them that the issue of the Eid grant would taken up with the authorities concerned.

“Our children are asking us for money and we don’t have any,” complained another protester, Gulzar Malgani. “I have come from Ghouspur after losing all my belongings and the government had promised to give us Rs20,000 before Eid. If it (the government) cannot keep its promise, it shouldn’t make such announcements.”

Sukkur DSP Rizwan Soomro told The Express Tribune that the flood survivors shouldn’t have taken the law into their hands. “I don’t know about the government making an announcement about the Eid grant, but even if it has, such violent protests would not be tolerated,” he said, adding, “We have decided to beef up security around the relief camps. At least one mobile unit from the police and Rangers would be deployed outside every camp to make sure the survivors won’t resort to vandalism again.”

Traders concerned

Traders said they were worried about the violent behaviour of the survivors. Furniture traders Mohammad Hafeez, Karam Ellahi, Haji Mohammad Sharif and others told The Express Tribune that they were providing food, clothes and other necessary items to the survivors, but in return, they were attacking their shops and causing them losses.

“These people will create a law and order situation soon and therefore we demand the administration shift them to the outskirts of the city,” they said.

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