At least 20 people were arrested and many others, including policemen, suffered minor injuries as the members and staff of the Pavilion End Club and owners of shops at Aladin Park took a last stand against the demolition of the club and shops on Tuesday.
Braving teargas and baton charge they made their voices heard against what they called sheer injustice. The shop owners, many in tears, told the media that they had purchased the shops from the city authorities, acquired power and gas connections, how could everything become illegal now.
There were moving scenes as people saw their lives savings lost when excavators and bulldozers of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) came rumbling to raze the popular holiday and shopping spots of Karachi in compliance with the Supreme Court's orders.
The Supreme Court has issued a written verdict for the demolition of the shopping area and Pavilion End Club adjacent to Aladin Park and to restore the park to its original condition. Illegal structures should be demolished and debris should be removed immediately while KMC administrator and Karachi commissioner should complete the proceedings in two days, the apex court ruled. The court directed the administration to submit a report on June 16. The shopping center was built in 1999, with more than 450 shops.
Acting on court orders, KMC Anti-Encroachment Department launched an operation at 11am to remove encroachments in Aladin Park and Pavilion and Club.
KMC Anti-Encroachment Department Senior Director Bashir Siddiqui led the operation while Rangers, district police, anti-encroachment police, city wardens, and policewomen searchers were also present for security.
However, when the KMC officials started demolishing the restaurants declared as encroachment, the shopkeepers of Aladin Park and members and staff of the Pavilion End Club started protesting on the road.
The protestors were incensed that they were running their business as per consent of the city authorities for the past 25 years, they were declared encroachment and ordered to move out without any offer of alternative place or compensation.
"The authorities did not even give us notice to move out our merchandise safely," a shopkeeper said sobbing over loss of his livelihood. This club and shops were supporting thousands of families, a worker employed at the now demolished Pavilion End Club said.
KMC officials said that the demolition work will continue on Wednesday too. They said that they were following directives of the apex court.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16h, 2021.
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