KARACHI: Concerned parents took to the streets again on Wednesday in a fresh attempt to have the Darakshan police station lockups shifted away from their children’s schools.
Though there were barely 50 of them gathered in front of the police station, they made sure they were loud enough to force the SHO out of his office to take notice. The peaceful protest was a prelude to today’s hearing of the residents’ and parents’ petition filed in the Sindh High Court that also calls for the relocation of high-risk targets such as CID official Chaudhry Aslam’s house.
“Do you want our children exposed to danger?” demanded Nageen Sheikh’s placard. According to her, the police station traumatises the neighbourhood children. “Our children see criminals being dragged to the station with their heads covered,” she explained. “They hear the beatings and their screams. Obviously, they are disturbed and we want a secure environment for them.”
The residents’ reactions were triggered by a suicide attack on Aslam’s house in September that left a Washington International School student, Moeed, and his mother, a teacher at the same school, dead.
Junaid Hamid was dropping his children to school just a lane away from the blast site. He felt that children here have unfortunately become resilient to violence after frequent attacks.
An estimated 5,000 students are said to be studying in the eight schools located in the area. SHO Mohsin Mashadi felt that protesting at the police station will not help the parents make a difference. They should consult the DIG and IG Sindh.
“I understand why the parents are emotional,” he said, “but the police station provides them with 100 per cent security.”
While the parents call for the lockups to be removed, the officer said it was impossible for the police station to function without them. “Criminals have to stay in the lockup for 24 hours before they can be produced before the court,” he explained. “When we have hardened criminals, we increase security.”
Some parents, like Dania, said that they would be going to court to support the hearing today. The solitary student, Shanzay Hasan of the CAS school, recalls how the windows of her school had shattered in the blast and said that the students are still very scared.
No compensation for damaged homes:
Amongst the protestors was Shahzad Dadabhoy, one of Aslam’s neighbours. His house was badly damaged in the blast.
Dadabhoy claimed that, while the chief minister had announced compensation for him the very next day, he has yet to receive the money. Dadabhoy’s driver and his son were also killed in the blast and their families have not been compensated either.
“I am rebuilding my house on my own now. I have received no money,” said Dadabhoy who was also injured after stepping on broken glass. He is currently staying with his in-laws. While he was representing the residents, he was disappointed with his neighbour’s response. While the schools are participating actively, residents are not serious about taking precautions or raising their voices, he complained.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2011.
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