PTH received this report on a mometous protest in the province. Often such neglected, localised movements are ignored by the media. We wish to share with our readers that the Pakistanis are struggling for their rights and more voice and coverage needs to be given to such heroic undertakings. Raza Rumi
On Tuesday 20 July, 2010 Anjuman Muzareen Punjab (AMP) (a movement of landless peasants) arranged a big rally in Okara District with thousand of women, children and men.Their target was to protest in front of the D.C.O office Okara, demanding their land ownership rights. They were carrying clubs, banners, and red-flags.
Peasants women and men came from different villages with their little children. Many young boys came with their motor bikes. They hang red flags on their bikes.Muzareen from differnt units join this huge rally. They came by tartor trayalls, vans,buses and rikshaws. Muzareen were raising slogans Ownership or Death. They were chanting slogan of Peasants rights.
They were gathered in Jhanh Park at 9 O’clock. On 10:30.All AMP units reached gathering place. The leaders of AMP intreduesed themselves and started speachs.
Founder of the movement Younis Iqbal siad that its time to need unity. In this way we can achive our goals easily. He said that if goverment will not accounce the Ownership rights in few days, Anjuman Muzareen Punjab will again come out from houses with whole family, and also animals and bull carts for Lahore Assembley Hall.
Then Chairperson Munwer Bibi spoke that women are stand side by side with men in every difficult situation. Ghani Javeed Chairman Okara Unit, Master Faiz Muhammad Sinoir vice Prisedent AMP, Lala Chanan Palhwan sinoir member supereim council, Abdual Raman Chairman Pakpatan District, Abdual Ghufar Ray Prisedent Kalunlya State, Yoquoob Suhotra Genral Secretary Renala State, Muhammad Abas Prisedent 92/9L Shaiwal District, Munzoor Hussan President 86/9L Unit, Dr Younsaf Mattu President United Christain Progressive Soceity, Nadeem Abas, Abdaul Jabar ex President AMP, Talub Numberdar chief Organizer Okara also address to the Muzareen Rally.
After addressing to Muzareen’s a rally reached in front of D.C. O office. The rally took one hour reached to D.C.O office because Muzareen were in thousands. In front of office people arised slogans in Favour of 26/4L and 8/4L Muzareen.
The District administration came out from their offices. Hafaiz Shukat district Revnu Officer and acting D.C.O address to the Muzareen Rally and promised that district administration will send your demand to the Chief Minister Today.
Leaders of AMP submit an application to acting D. C.O in name of Chief Minister. And remind to Chief Minister that he promised to Muzareen on 9 March 2010 that he would gave land rights as soon as possible but after 4 months later he could not fulfill his promised .
After this founder of the movement Yonuis Iqbal and other leaders of the AMP met to D.P.O. Okara and explained the whole situation on Muzareen issues. In the end rally Founder and Quaid –e- Tareeq Younis Iqbal thanked to peasants women, children, men and participants from the other units. He also expressed that we will keep countinu our struggle till to get our land rights.
Many civil society’s member of Okara, Labour movement Anjuman Paladarn Union, Christian Progressive Society, Peasants Women Welfare Foundation and local citizen of Okara show their solidarity with Anjuman Muzareen Punjab.
Brief history about these Muzareen. The Military Dairy Farm Okara comprises of six military farms. These farms cover an area of 18 chaks numbered as 3/4-L, 4/4-L, 5-A/4-L, 6/4-L, 8/4-L, 9/4-L, 10/4-L, 11/4-L, 12/4-L, 13/4-L, 17/4-L, 18/4-L, 20/4-L, 24/4-L, 25/4-L, 26/4-L, 44/3-R, and 45/3-R. In the early 20th century, land of the farm had been given to the forefathers of the peasants for the purpose of cultivation and Abadkarai (habition) by the Government of British India. At that time, much of this region was infertile that could not be utilized for farming. The tenants were given the land with the promise that the peasants would be granted permanent ownership of the land once they succeeded in making it productive. The forefathers of the peasants succeeded in making the land fertile after much hardship, but the promise of ownership rights was not fulfilled.
Due to the environment created before the First World War, the Government of British India planned to set up several farms to meet the needs of military personnel. One of these farms named Military Dairy Farm Okara was set up in 1913. The government did not disturb the possession of the ancestors and they continued their tenancies under Military Farm Management. The land had been given on lease of 20 year which had expired in 1933 and it had never renewed.
The total land of military Dairy Farm Okara was 17013 acres out of which 5000 acres were in direct cultivation of the management while 12013 acres land was in possession of the tenants. Out of 12013 acre land 1000 acres land was spread over in the Chak # 26/4-L and 24/4-L. In these Chak’s 80% land had been possessed and cultivated by ancestors of Christian peasants.
After the partition of the sub-continents, in 1958, the land went waterlogged and could not be cultivated therefore, the peasants had to move around for earning their livelihood. In 1998, when the land returned to normal, the peasants came back and began farming. In 2000, the Military forcefully possessed the land for the purpose of Military Training Camp. The tenants did not want to leave the possession but Military vacant the land. However, the Military had not built any training camp but utilized that land for agricultural purpose.
The forefathers of the tenants occupied the under the valid authorities as sub-tenants of the former lessee. On setting up of the Military farm, they were allowed to continue at tenants but this condition had not been applied to their descendants. The other Military Farms are in possession of the tenants on which they are cultivating.
The Provincial Government had introduced many Abadkari Schemes during the last several years in which proprietary rights had been given to the tenants at a nominal rates. But with the tenants of the Chak # 24/4-L and 26/4-L had left without land.
Over 500 peasants had been earning their daily bread from that land. But after the possession of the Military, their lives turned to morning. They all were poor and unskilled people who knew only cultivation. They had no source of income to pursue the matter in the court. On the other hand, the military is the most powerful institution of the country and even the government had never dared to stand before the military.
Reported by Amir Parvez