Okara farmers set to launch protest campaign against ‘forced evacuation’

LAHORE: The Anjuman Mazaraeen Punjab (AMP) is all set to launch a protest campaign against an alleged plan of the government and the Pakistan Army to take 2,250 acres of land from poor farmers.

AMP leaders and Noor Nabi and Nadeem Ashraf told Daily Times that the military dictator Pervez Musharraf had secretly allotted 2,250 acres of land to his favourite generals and other military officers in 2007. The land is situated between Okara and Renala Khurd, they said.

They alleged that the army was planning to forcibly expel the poor farmers from five villages who were cultivating the land since generations.

They said the farmers had been struggling for their rights since decades, but neither any government nor the army allowed serious negotiations with them on the issue. They alleged that the government always wanted to kick them out from their inherited land despite the fact that it was a subjudice matter.

They claimed that 65 army personnel were the beneficiaries of this scheme at the cost of thousands of people living in villages Hazal Pura, Water Gunj, Renala Kalaan, Luis Pur and Dorisabad.

They said the local government officers, instead of supporting their cause, were also forcing the farmers to peacefully evacuate their houses. The AMP representatives said their community had decided to strongly resist any such idea and it would be a do or die case for them.

They stated that the AMP leaders, including Mehar Abdul Sattar, Saleem Jhakar and Nadeem had planned a protest campaign with the support of the Labour Party Pakistan.

They said a protest schedule would be announced during a press conference at the Lahore Press Club in the near future.

They regretted that the public representatives did not ever bother to do anything for them and the farmers were continuously persecuted in their own country.

They said that farmers were allowed to harvest and control the land by British rulers in 1935 and they not only cultivated this barren land but also served the country by producing crops since decades. “We are now told by the establishment that we have no right on the land,” they said.

The AMP leaders added that it would be the first such move in which farmers would be evicted from their lands by the Pakistan Army after 1991.

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