KARACHI: Flood survivors, who made their way to Karachi after their villages drowned, are reporting abductions, harassment and robberies. The insecurity has made many of them take a step back from accepting donations as well.
According to people at the camps, there have been reports that men in fancy cars take the flood survivors to unknown locations, where they steal their belongings and mistreat their women.
Out of this fear, Haji Ghulam Farid’s family has been living at the Cantt Railway Station in Karachi as they do not want to suffer the same fate as their family members had earlier been through.
The family left their village Osta Muhammad, when it was submerged but when they arrived in Karachi, they dared not move to any of the relief camps set by the government. They were also reluctant to share any information of their troubles with daily Express, for fear that they would “upset” the organisers.
Farid’s son Abid Hussain and Imtiaz refused to take any donations. They explained that they did not want to “compromise on their women’s honour” by indebting themselves to anyone. They insisted that they are safe at the station and felt no need to go to any other place. “If anyone wants to give us any donations, they should contact the police station and if the police accompany them only then will we accept it,” said a member of Farid’s family.
He told daily Express that they used to earn a living by dealing in junk. “We will not trade the honour of our women under any cost,” he said.
With each passing day, Farid’s family is becoming increasingly fearful that someone will come to rob them or harass the women. They hope that their village becomes dry again so that they can return.
They appealed to the residents of Karachi to help them out so they can protect their women’s honour because they have no hope from the government.
Out of the flood, into a land scam
“We emerged from one problem to get stuck in another one,” said flood survivor, Noor Muhammad.
Noor had fled his home in Karampur, Shikarpur district and like many others from his village, he too had come to Karachi with his family seeking sanctuary.
However, according to him, government officials were giving flood survivors shelter in flats but there was an ulterior motive behind this apparent act of kindness. Many villagers accused the government officials of using the flood survivors to take over flats. They were being taken hostage in the flats just to serve the officials’ purpose.
“We will leave the city soon,” he said, explaining that after the flood survivors leave the officials will get the place. “We do not want to be a part of Karachi’s politics,” he said. “In a few days the water in Shikarpur will recede and then we will go back.”
Noor and his family just wants to go back to Karampur, where they are ready to rebuild their lives and homes.
The generosity of strangers
According to Noor, there were more than 50 women and children who had come with them from his village.
While they had been waiting for some help and direction at Cantt station, some people came and served them food and drinks. “They did not say who they were, where they were from,” Noor said, praising the strangers’ generosity, blaming the government for failing to help them.
The government had some representatives at the railway station but they did not come and ask us if we wanted food or anything, he added. “We will just stay at the station and bide our time, we do not want to go to any government relief camps or anywhere else,” the disillusioned Noor said. “Whatever aid has to come, we will get it, we will not beg for any help, we are not beggars.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2010.
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