The other side of 'police brutality'.

THE police action in Karachi's Mujahid Colony recently elicited a range of responses and reactions, with some calling it a sign of regression in society and calling the action a show of police brutality. Indeed, Pakistan is regressing, and the extent of its decline can be measured from our inability to call a spade a spade. There is nothing 'so-called' about the encroachments in Mujahid Colony, and the fact remains that they were blatant encroachments on a 150 feet-wide road, two stormwater drains and one 24-inch freshwater line as per the Karachi master plan.

The question of legality is often so conveniently shrugged off by citing 'controversy' as a reason, whereas the core reason for the whole strenuous drive was the legality of it. The demolition of houses in Mujahid Colony started in October last year, much after first notices were served in August by Karachi Development Authority (KDA), giving occupants ample time to react and provide whatever documents they may have, if any.

The whole operation was initiated on the directions of the Supreme Court to restore the master plan of Karachi. Prior to this, multiple bigger drives had been carried out on the same lines and for the same reasons, like in Gujjar Nullah, Kidney Hill Park, Empress Market and other areas.

Despite months since notices were served, the occupants failed to provide any legal document to any of the relevant offices, including KDA, deputy commissioner's office or Sindh Katchi Abadis Authority. Their petition was also dismissed by the Sindh High Court. Then again, the drive was planned in multiple phases. In the initial phase, commercial units, shops and hotels were removed, while the progression was made gradually, giving sufficient time to the residents to vacate the area.

Usually, during such drives, private contractors are tendered to demolish and take away whatever iron or valuables are collected. This way, not only the government expenditure is saved, the contractors pay to the exchequer. A prime example of this was the demo- lition of Nasla Tower. However, the drive in Mujahid Colony did not opt for such a strategy.

Instead, the occupants were...

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