KISSAN ITTEHAD PROTESTS: JUSTICE IS INEVITABLE FOR IMRAN KHAN

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Imran Khan and his part Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf are two such names which are directly associated with the complete provision of justice and equality. However, it appears like Imran Khan has had quite a tough time giving justice to the indigenous people and he has not been very successful in his Justice, Humanity and Self-Esteem slogan. The days long sit-ins by the farmers belonging to Kissan Ittehad showed that the ruling government had been unable to deliver fully to the farmer’s demands in a just and fair manner.

The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad announced the end of days long protests on Thokar Niaz Beg on Wednesday 4th November 2020 after carrying out successful dialogue with the Punjab government. Provincial Law Minister Raja Basharat and Energy Minister Malik Akhtar held table talks with representatives of Kissan Ittehad at Committee Room of Energy Department. Commissioner Lahore Division Zulfiqar Ghman, CCPO Omar Sheikh and other officers also made their presence on this occasion. Kissan Ittehad was represented by Central Chairman Chaudhry Anwar, Central President Zulfiqar Awan and others.

Raja Basharat said that Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Bazdar had taken historic steps for the betterment of farmers which had not been done before. Highlighting Usman Buzdar’s performance in Punjab, he said that farmers used to stress about sugarcane crushing and late payments, but Usman Buzdar has brought in effective legislation to address their issues.

Describing their government as a public-friendly government, he also stated that their doors are always open for the farmers. A committee has been formed by the Punjab government headed by the Secretary Agriculture had been constituted to look into their legitimate demands and make recommendations after reviewing them. Punjab government has promised to solve the issues of farmers on priority basis.

Hundreds of farmers had gathered together on Thokar Niaz Beg putting up their demands in front of the Punjab government and had continuously refused to call off the protests. Up until Wednesday 4th November 2020, they did not budge away from their demands. They had besieged the provincial capital Lahore to press the government for accepting their demands. Separately led by Chaudhry Anwar, president of Kissan Ittehad, and Shaukat Ali Chaddhar, president of Kissan Board Pakistan, the protesters blocked the city’s entry and exit points and managed to reach in front of the Punjab Assembly. 

On Wednesday morning, clashes had erupted between the police and the protesting farmers at Thokar Niaz Beg. The farmers alleged that the police used water mixed with chemicals and resorted to teargas shelling. In retaliation, they pelted stones which allegedly resulted in injuries to a few persons and damage to several vehicles. The demonstration led to disruption in traffic on various roads, resulting in long queues as the farmers tried to move towards The Mall.

The protesting farmers belonging to different districts had continued their sit-in at Thokar Niaz Beg in support of their demands. The direct benefit of their protest went to the organisers of the ongoing demonstration of the PKI. A large contingent of police stopped the fleeing protesters in Allama Iqbal Town and tried to negotiate with them but failed. Meanwhile, some protesters managed to dodge the police and reached The Mall, but a heavy contingent of police already deployed there started arresting the farmers.

Later, at the invitation of the government, a delegation led by Kissan Ittehad President Chaudhry Anwar held talks with Law Minister Raja Basharat and the Energy minister. Basharat assured that the PKI demands would be presented to the Punjab CM. The law minister assured the leaders of the farmers that orders have been issued for immediate release of the arrested farmers. The PKI demonstrators called off their protest on the assurance that their demands would be accepted.

The chairman of the Kissan Ittehad has officially called off the protest but it is only temporary and if their demands are not fulfilled by the government, then protests will most likely erupt again. He did thank the government for assuring the farmer community that their demands will be fulfilled in the right time.

Due to the clashes that sprouted between Punjab police and the farmers, one of the leaders Malik Ashfaq Langial succumbed to serious injuries and could not survive. The police brutalities resulted in severe injuries and the farmers’ demands to the Punjab government have also included bringing justice to their leader. They have urged Usman Buzdar to take notice of the Police Gardi going on in his province which has been left totally unchecked and unbalanced. The farmers have demanded the removal of the recently appointed Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Lahore Umar Sheikh from the Punjab government.

The cries for justice from these farmers on the wickedness of Punjab Police reminds us of a very similar incident of Police brutality that took place in Model Town, Lahore in 2014. Imran Khan and leaders of his party had strongly condemned the incident taking turns to criticize the inept Punjab government and the then Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. They had opened the war of words at the ruling government of Nawaz Sharif for being crooked and unjust for letting the police murder people so openly. They had criticized the Joint Investigation Team that was formed by Shahbaz Sharif at that time.

It seems like the daggers have turned their faces towards Imran Khan now and he is going to face karma. The Punjab Police under Imran Khan has proved itself to be no less vile than that which was operating under Nawaz Sharif. It is very crucial for Imran Khan to provide justice to Malik Ashfaq and bring his murderers to penalty as soon as possible. If he fails to do so, then he will be painted by the stigma of injustice and inequality that he himself had been accusing the previous governments about.

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