Protesting fisherfolk say they won’t hush up


KARACHI – A large number of fisherfolk hailing from different coastal villages staged a protest in Thatta city to condemn the illegal abduction of a community activist. The protesters, carrying banners and placards, shouted slogans demanding the safe release of Taj Mohammed Thahimor, who was arrested on January 22 while returning home. The protest rally, organised by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), was led by Gulab Shah, Amir Bux Jatt, PFF regional manager Jameel Junejo, Noor Mohammed Thahimor and others.
The rally culminated outside the Thatta Press Club, where fisherfolk leaders briefed the media about the case, saying there has been no information of Thahimor’s whereabouts since his disappearance on January 22. The protesters said they had approached police and district administration to know if the missing fisherman was involved in any kind of crime but the authorities are denying his arrest.
Terming Thahimor’s arrest unjust, the fisherfolk pleaded that he had no visible criminal charges against him and was innocent.
After his disappearance, his family is living an uncertain life and being pressured by the police and local influential. The PFF activists warned that if the provincial government and district administration fails to pay heed towards their demand, the community will gather in the Jati Town on March 10 and initiate a long march to Thatta for the release of the activist. Earlier, crowds of women joined the fisherfolk protest for the first time, motivating social activists of the area to condemn the incident.
PFF activist Noor Mohammed Thahimor said feudal lords and police are playing the same game to keep fisherfolk hushed up by adopting illegal tactics. The fisherfolk are working under tense conditions due to the atrocities of local influential, he added. A PFF spokesman said that all this is happening with the fishermen community in tenure of the PPP-led democratic government. He said the legal way is to bring Thahimor before a court of law if there are any charges against him. “It has become a routine that law enforcement agency personnel arrest fishermen from their areas, beat them cruelly and when they become paralysed throw them away after a few days,” he alleged.
Terming Thahimor’s disappearance a violation of laws, he demanded that the PPP government and the legislators change their attitude and deal with poor fishermen politely, as they risk their lives for earning their livelihood and have nothing to do with crime. Thahimor along with Ramzan Pathan was returning home, when they were picked up allegedly by the police. Pathan – also a fisherman activist – was released after a few days, but Thahimor is still in custody. The PFF’s protest rally was the first in its fresh struggle beginning from Saturday against the ill treatment of the coastal communities in Thatta district as the towns located near the controversial Sir and Kajir creeks have to pay a heavier price for the negligence of government authorities.
PFF chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah accompanied by the area activists had visited the family of the missing fisherman in Jati a few days ago and assured them of help in his safe recovery. The unexpected disappearance of a fisherfolk activist has spread fear in the entire community, which accuses the police and local influential of lodging fake cases against them to keep them silent instead of helping them. When the community people, under the banner of PFF, staged a demonstration in Jati to demand the missing fisherman’s release, the police lodged fake cases against 24 activists, forcing them to go into hiding.