CALL TO END CRUELTY AGAINST PEASANTS IN SINDH
Hyderabad: Lawyers, rights activists and civil society members expressed concerns that despite existing peasant-related laws, the families of poor agricultures workforce are paying huge cost of negligence by the Sindh government. They pointed out that those daring farmers challenge the cruel system, they are being pushed in to jails or being lodged FIRs against them to stay silent.
They were speaking at a consultation meeting with lawyers, organised by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) at famous Khanabadosh Writer Cafe in Hyderabad on Tuesday. The meeting attracted active lawyers, rights activists and civil society members to give suggestions for implementation of the laws. Badal Gahoti Advocate, Vice President Matiary Bar Association suggested that since the legislation makers, they violate the law, which they made how poor farmers can expect to protect their rights under this system. He suggested designing alternate laws, which may be the only way out to protect the rights of these rural workforce’s.
Roshan Shah Advocate said there is lack of co-ordination within lawyers, human rights activists and the civil society. There should have joint platform including haris, civil society members, politicians and lawyers so that they may achieve task. He pointed out that “we could not link the peasant issues to recent local bodies’ elections to take up the matter of legislation, because there is need of mainstreaming the issue”.
He said the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced package of haris quite recently but it could not give any relief to farmers of Sindh province, where bonded labour exist and private jails are functional. Shah said the agenda of haris should be taken up at every forum to strengthen movement jointly.
Punhal Sario of Hari Porhiat Council portrayed major account of plight of haris in Sindh and said the Tenancy Act founded in 1950 is still working without any amendment. For example, he said when mode of production has been changed there should be made changes in the law.
He said the old fine of Rs 500 on violation of right still exists, despite the fact the value of rupee has dropped horribly. He said besides, formation of laws keeping in mind the recommendations of rights activists, the revenue officials should also be given directives to follow and implement the same. He gave more examples of cases in which haris are facing displacement and they are running far-sightedly to move to safer places. Hundreds of haris are facing cases in several areas and the law failed to protect these poor workers to give space on the earth.
Shuja Qureshi introduced PILER working with industrial labour in urban areas and peasants and rural workforce. He said Tenancy act was the subject of this meeting to get input from lawyers, who practically deal with these cases. He said now after contract system, workers, both industrial and peasants informal sector are facing problems. Similarly, the role of provincial government is different. He said peasants and informal sector workers cannot form trade unions. Peasants are different in terms they are not coming in labour formal status hence, he said these farers need support to have right to live, work safely. The speakers portrayed the issues of recent climatic changes and fears of food insecurity, because of government’s misunderstanding.