Unaware or indifferent of the government ban on swimming in the city’s beaches on Valentine’s Day, residents came out in droves to visit Sea View Beach on Sunday.
On Friday night, the provincial government had released a notification declaring the imposition of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to ban swimming on Sunday, February 14, as it feared loss of human lives from the ‘high tides’.
However, Clifton beach was packed on Valentine’s Day, with several residents indulging in swimming without being stopped from the on-duty authorities.
What’s the beach without swimming?
Despite the afternoon chill, Sohail and his friends were busy playing games inside the water. When asked about knowledge regarding the ban, he said neither he nor his friends had any idea about the government notification. A friend of Sohail’s commented that there’s no point coming to the beach if one does not swim.
Another swimmer, Yasir Iqbal, who is visiting from Lahore, claimed he had no idea of the ban. When informed about the prohibition, he said “How can thousands of people come to the beach and not swim in the sea. And that too on a weekend?”
A lifeguard at the beach, Muhammad Jameel, also had no idea of any swimming ban. He said, “I have been performing my duty [at Tower 9] since morning and keeping a close watch on the swimmers.”
‘We don’t want to hurt them’
A policeman standing near the police mobile at the beach said they have done all they can to stop people from swimming, but most of the visitors are not listening to them. “We cannot hurt people by baton-charging them for fear of public backlash,” said Head Constable Abdul Kareem. He explained that they are here to stop people from going into deep water as most people are ‘charged’ on Valentine’s Day and may venture farther than they can handle.
Win some, lose some
Muhammad Pervaiz, a balloon vendor at Schon Circle, said last year till the afternoon of February 14, he had sold 300 heart-shaped balloons but this time he could only sell 35 pieces. He was confused about the reason behind the low sales. “It could be that people have stopped loving each other,” he said.
Another balloon vendor, Muhammad Faisal, said he took a loan of Rs30,000 to buy heart-shaped balloons to sell on February 14. At around evening time, he seemed satisfied as he had sold almost all the balloons, and returned the loan after a profit of Rs4,000.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2016.