FAISALABAD: Wall chalking and graffiti, defined as wordings or images scribbled on a wall, actually originates from ancient Romans and Egyptians in the form of cave paintings and was used as a manner of self-expression. It has transformed ever since in different forms with the impulse to make one’s mark in the society.
The most appealing canvas for such mass messages seems to be public places such as bus stops, parks and buildings, boundary walls, sidewalks on main roads and flyovers.
Wall chalking is a major problem for cities across the world, and Faisalabad is no exception.
Not only are the walls of the metropolis defaced through wall chalking, public and private property in other cities and towns of Punjab too have been similarly vandalised. However, most of these supposedly artful messages is an eyesore.
Nearly all political and religious parties use public and private space to advertise rallies, praise their leaders or chastise opponents. Faisalabad’s walls are also used to sell products and services, from questionable weight-loss regimes to witch doctors advertising their mastery over the underworld.
In addition, sectarian and militant groups also spread poison in society by plastering the city’s walls with hate-filled messages and sinister warnings.
The administration in Punjab has banned wall-chalking in the past, albeit temporarily, through the imposition of Section 144 of the CrPC.
But as walls in Faisalabad testify, these efforts have failed to prevent the spread of ugly graffiti, posters, notices etc. Perhaps a major reason for this is that political parties are amongst the worst offenders when it comes to defacing properties.
Time for action
While taking notice of the wall chalking, the district government has decided to launch a crackdown against those involved.
The Punjab government has constituted a district monitoring committee under the convenership of Deputy Commissioner Salman Ghani to monitor the campaign against wall chalking and graffiti.
DPO/CPO, chief officer and representative of special branch have been included as members of the committee.
According to a notification issued by the government, the committee shall constitute a force comprising representatives from all stakeholders, departments/offices for effective enforcement and implementation of the campaign against wall chalking.
District judges, sessions’ judges and the district prosecutor would be apprised regarding the wall chalking campaign and be requested for early disposal of pending cases relating to the offence.
The committee shall also hold meetings with the elected representatives, local bar association, Anjuman Tajran, printing press owners, local painters, civil society representatives, media and others to apprise them about the sensitivity of the matter and to take them on board for successful implementation of the campaign.
The letters would also be issued by the deputy commissioner to the management of schools, colleges, universities and public offices for taking special measures to keep watch on their premises and extending help to eradicate any wall chalking and pasting of posters.
The daily progress report would be taken by this committee for onward communication to provincial government regarding reviewing and implementation of drive against wall chalking.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2017.