Founding Editor: Shafqat Munir   

Residents of a strange land at risk of snake and pigs biting 

03 Augustus 2010 01:45:52

Residents of a strange land at risk of snake and pigs biting

By: Yasir Ilyas

With a deep sense of homeliness and apathy of the civic bodies depriving them of basic amenities including electricity and drinking water, people of a tent village in H-9 sector have a feeling of being marginalized and at the risk of being bitten by snakes and pigs. They have a lot of complains against societal indifference towards them.

Inhabitants of this slum are the affectees of Rawal Dam and Chack Shahzad and belong to Christian community. Instead of being compensated, they were rendered homeless as the authorities evicted them from their shelters declaring them ‘illegal occupants’.

“Once we were having our own homes but now we have no option but to live like nomads,” said the affectees from the community.

After their first eviction from the Rawal dam and Chak Shahzad areas, they came to a green belt of the capital for temporary shelter. Despite commitments, leaders from the Christian community apparently did only a lip service to their demands for a permanent settlement as compensation.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) after their second eviction from the green belt gave them an alternate shelter space in sector H-9/2. They have tents to live but with no water and electricity in hot and humid weather conditions. When they see their fellow citizens in the same sector enjoy all luxuries and civic amenities in their vicinity, they ask a question whether they are the citizens of this country too?

“Authorities and leaders only think about supporting people when they are about to die in any calamity. They do no come to rescue those who die every day due to poverty, hunger and homeliness,” said an elder from the community.

Imitiaz Masih, one of the resident of this slum told INFN that as many as 2000 people hailing from 200 families live in these tents. “We were evicted forcefully from the Rawal Dam and Chak Shehzad areas and were left alone with no support and facility necessary as human being,” he added.

“Initially, a couple of lights were installed in our camp but now they have been removed and we live in complete dark near a deserted place in the capital. Our kids and families feel insecure because of wild pigs and other animals. Our children are often bitten by snakes in darkness,” said Bagga Masih, another resident of the locality.

“There were few street lights on the road leading to the locality from ‘Itwar Bazaar’ of Peshawar Morh, which were quite useful for us. But some bandits who use the nearby jungle as their safe heaven, broke or damaged these lights for their ease,” said Bagga.

Most of the respondents when interviewed said earlier police and rescue 15 used to patrol the area but for unknown reason, we hardly see such patrolling which exposed us to these criminals hiding in the area.

Mansha Masih said, “The biggest problem we face is unemployment. We do not have proper jobs; hence we are unable to feed our families. So our female family members used to do domestic chores as maids in nearby sectors. This is generally the only source of income for us. Our children do not go to schools and we do not have any work to do.”

A highly respected tribal elder in the community said that insecurity is another constant threat for us; particularly our female family members are exposed to a threat of sexual assault in these unprotected tents. So we assign duties of guards to our youngsters in night to protect our women and lives of the community members.

When you visit this locality, you are engulfed in strange sort of feelings. You will find yourself in a beautiful village of Punjab, where greenery is everywhere, people sitting under trees, playing cards to kill their time with smoking ‘Hukka’ (Water-piped tobacco smoking gadget), but when you hear story of these people, all colors, charms and fantasies disappear suddenly and you feel sorry for these residents of the ‘strange-land’.