By Raja Jee
On 22nd November, Quomi Awami Long March led by Rasool Bux Palijo has reached Karachi, and thousands of Men, women and children marched from Mazar-e-Quid to “Imprest Market”, the historical place from where Sindh played his role in 1857 war against British. Main leadership of Muslim League (N), Jamait-e-Islami, Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party, Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf, Muslim League (Q) and civil society showed absolute solidarity and participated in this Grand Peaceful Public Gathering of more than two hundred thousand Sindhis including about fifty thousand women. Participation and unanimous support of leaders of various political parties indicates that they are united over the issues and all called this event as most exceptional, mammoth, unique and longest protest march in Indo-Pak history and congratulated Awami Tahreek and Rasool Bux Palijo for this heart-awakening march. First time a march of a Sindhi Nationalist political party was the big head line evening news for all English, Urdu and Sindhi TV channels and named as a remarkable and unprecedented massive show of strength of indigenous local people.
This march started from Kandh Kot, upper end of Sindh on 8th of October 2009 and by walking 20 to 25 kilometers daily thousands of marchers including men, women and children crossed Shikarpur, Sukkur, Khairpur, Gambat, Kandiaro, Noshehro Feroz, Moro, Qazi Ahmed, Sakrand, Hala, Bhit Shah, Hyderabad, Tando Mohammad Khan, Shah Karim Bulri, Mirpur Bathoro, Sijawal, Thatto, Dabeji, Ghaghar phattak, Quidabad, Malir, Bhitai Abad, Gulistan-e-Johar, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Guru Mander to reach Destination. This distance became around 1000 kilometers which was covered in 46 days as scheduled. The main route of March touched from one end to other end (North to South)of Sindh province where to cover the breadth/ other sides of Sindh merging short marches have also joined the main march which includes as (1). Ratodero to Shikarpur (2). Dadu to Moro (3). Nawabshah to Sakrand (4). Tando Allahyar to Hyderabad (5). Matli to Tando Mohammad Khan (6). Daro to Mirpur Bathoro. In this way this tree shaped march touched every district of Sindh.
Distributed pamphlet tells the following aim and objectives:
- Right of governance with complete autonomy as per 1940 resolution instead of rule of imperial forces and their agents.
- Hold back the right over natural resources, oil, coal, gas, islands, and coastline.
- Right of water of River Indus as per Sindh – Punjab Pact 1945
- Stoppage of controversial water projects i.e. Dams on river Indus and Thal canal.
- Stop alleged settlements of outsiders in Sindh to convert indigenous population in minority.
- Reject allotment of million acres of provincial land to non Sindhi population and multinational companies for illegal possession over cities.
- Restrain Sindhi students from admission in educational institutions of Karachi and preserving Institution from copy, weapon, Bhata culture.
- Uproot all forms of Terrorism as state, urban, tribal, and religious in cities and lawlessness in rural areas by so called urban rulers and feudal lords.
- Protest against Continuous unemployment and non observance of due share in jobs for Sindhis in judiciary, military, financial institutions, autonomous authorities and other departments.
- Protest against Jirga system, Honour killing, Karo Kari, immature marriages and other violence against women and minorities.
It is the fifth long march by Awami Tahreek first in December 1991 from Sukkur to Karachi, second in 1994 from Hyderabad to Karachi, third in 2001 from Bhitshah to Karachi, forth is from Sukkur to Karachi in 2005 and this is longest fifth one. There is no doubt in saying that Awami Tahreek always gained huge support from publics and their struggle remained peaceful and non-violent. No scratch on any vehicle or any damage to property or misbehave to any persons on any basis of sect, language or creed were reported so far. On the other hand in 2001, they faced baton charge, injuries, bloodshed, lockups, and tear gas shells each day by police in a bid to foil the long march and they set new example of bravery ahead the government blockade, torture, brutality and aggression and succeeded to reach Karachi peacefully.
Awami Tahreek was formed on 1970 aiming to establish a welfare state with participation of renowned Marxist-Leninist-Maoist writers, political activists and intellectuals under leading theoretician Rasool Bux Palijo. Besides contribution in all democratic and human right struggles in Pakistan, the active role of Awami Tahreek is largely recognized in Anti One- Unit, MRD, Anti Kalabagh Dam, anti urban terrorism, restoration of judiciary , violence in educational institutions and violence against women and peasant in all over Pakistan.
Founder of Awami Tahreek Rasool Bux Palijo (80) is a well-known politician of Pakistan and he earned the fame in struggling against feudalisms, marshal-laws, establishment, colonialism and imperialism. Besides top constitutional and criminal lawyer, he is an authority over world history, philosophy, science, religion and political theories and also wrote more than 40 books on numerous subjects. He remained about 11 years in jail and declared as Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International in 1981. Organizing women and Hindu scheduled Castes are his more remarkable and revolutionary traits. His continuous love, affection and guide uplifted them as first class citizens and He has broken the walls of untouchability and chains of women slavery very practically.
During passing through no-go area of Saradars in Kadh Kot, Rasool Bux Palijo expressed his views as “Through planned conspiracy, big cities of Sindh are handed over to terrorists while the rurals areas have been distributed to tribal chiefs and Jagidars and both are the agents of imperial forces. Feudalism and urban terrorism are being nourished by dictators and imperial agencies to maintain status quo. Criminal negligence of present government over the urban terrorism on Sindhi and tribal terrorism over women and Hindus are very shameful. However, the sons and daughters of Sindh without any discrimination of caste, tribe, creed and religion are ready to play their role in struggle to get back sovereignty of Sindh and the resources of Sindh”.
Averagely 500 men, women and children have walked in changing weather from hot to cold in the entire province on foot and when crossed through towns and cities the caravan turned into huge public gatherings. Leaders spoke there to highlight the issue and purposes. Caravan received warm welcome by local organizations, political parties, civil societies, bar associations at every stop along National Highway. There were singers who kept the participants energized with revolutionary songs of Shah Latif, Faiz Amed Faiz, Shaikh Ayaz, Habib Jalib, Ustad Bukhari, Sahir Ludhiyanvi, and Bhagat Kabir and also the well-worded poetic slogans were loudly chanted with pleasant rhythms as;
- Jo America jo yaar aa – Ghadaar aa Ghadar aa.
- Qudarati waseela – Awam ji hawaley kario.
- Karo-kari ain jirga system – Na manzoor no manzoor.
- Daryan ji Aabadgari – Band Kario band kario
- 12 May ain 18 October Ja qatil – Girftar kario Girftar kario
- Jagia Jagia – Sindhi Jagia.
- Sindhu te ko b dam – Na khapey Na khapey
- Rahbar Sindhi Quom jo – Rasool Bux Palijo
- Kery-lugar ain NRO – Na manzoor Na manzoor
- Dahishat garidi ain Gunda Gardi – Band Kario band kario
Besides the frequent appearances of Rasool Bux Palijo (Cardiac Patient), Advocate Ayaz Lalif Palijo, Sayed Aalam Shah, Mohammad Khan Bhurgri, Qadir Ranto, Hakeem Halepoto, Mazhar Rahujo of Awami Tahreek and Umrah Samo, Zahida Shaikh, Nazir Qureshi, Husna Rahujo, Marium Gopang, Kalavanti Raja, Fahmaida Soomro, Azmat Halepoto of Sindhiyani Tahreek are leading the March.
Ayaz Latif Palijo (44), Awami Tahreek’s current president possessing moving and shaking personality and having very vast knowledge and grip over the issue of Sindh told that “Today Sindh is passing famine like situation. People are committing suicide and selling their children due allegedly made price hike and corruption. Broad day-light dacoity is made on water, finances, employment and resources of coming generations. How long the rulers embroil the people of Sindh in concocted stories? People are full of hatred and warmly contributing their part in struggle. Hugely participation of public and political groups irrespective of socio-political and religious affiliations proved that Sindh is united”.
Mohammad Khan Bhurgri, General Secretary AT expressed the significance of march as “It’s a mammoth demonstration and protest ever held in Pakistan. Main theme of this protest is restoration of all rights of Sindh and establishment of democratic republic welfare state. We are not against any group or nation but we oppose those who perpetuate atrocities on Sindhis and other working classes of Pakistan. This march is organized against ongoing unemployment, price hike, terrorism, lawlessness, corruption and shortage of water for which we have received tremendous response from masses, people are hosting break fasts, Lunches, dinners and night stays voluntarily. ”
Ms. Umrah Samo, President of Sindhiyani Tahreek, replied when asked about hot weather, hard journey, as “It is tiring at instant but energizing and interesting ahead public enthusiasm, supportive attitude, hospitality, walking along, showering of rose petals, offering of foods, juices, sweets, snakes, tea and milks by common people in thousands. At start some were fairer but now we all are of same colour and complexions. Our refreshed health and fitness is just the byproduct of 46 days long march”.
Many surprising and emotional scenes were observed; some memories shared by Mr. Riaz Ahmed Pechuho, a 46 days marcher, are as under:
1). During passing through Ghauspur hundreds of Hindu Bagri women appeared and joined march singing songs in their own language.
2). In Kumb city Menghwar Community welcome the long march with many baskets of sweets and celebrated Deevali Festival with Caravan.
3). Huge group of Young Shaikh Community leading by Latif Shaikh received the long march like traditional Barat in Gambat and all danced for hours in the tunes of barati band-baja and drums.
4). Parents arranged the marriage of Sakina Maganhar but she joined March till the first ceremony of ‘wanwah’ and all marching women left her with placing ‘Mendi’ on her hand palms and marriage songs.
5). Two old age (above 75 years) persons Ahmed Laghari and Ali Ghulam Nizamani are determined to walk for 46 days and many youngster of 7-10 years are in the walk. Women with infants are surprising entries.
6). A man near Sakrand stopped his car and left his wife and three daughters in long march and come back at evening and repeated thrice.
7). Many Small tea hotel owners at rural side stopped the caravan and forcibly offered the tea to all persons free. Ended all milk and tea and started walking.
8). All Gadi Nahins of Dargahs as came across like Hazrat Sachal Sarmast, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Shah Inayat Shaheed Of Jhok Sharif have warmly and culturally welcomed with presenting Ajraks and singing sufi songs and showed complete solidarity with march objectives.
9). Feet of participants were wounded and swelled but the glow of their eyes were very shining and they kept the victorious smile on their faces.
10). Many women carried their milk feeding babies on their waists and continued 46 days march with a military discipline.
Bravo! Awami Tahreek have played well its role with befitting courage and sacrifice to aware, protest and project the cause and demands of Sindh in democratic, disciplined and peaceful ways towards Government and all well wishers of Pakistan and stressed to resolve the issues and make the country go on in well and honoured manner.
(Writer is a social worker and civil society activist. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. )