Fearing a witch hunt by the local administration and police following a directive of the Supreme Court for action against illegal immigrants, Bengali community members on Saturday staged a protest outside the Karachi Press Club.
“There are more than three million Bengalis who live in Pakistan and call it their country. Those who call us migrants should correct their facts,” said the committee’s chairperson, Shaikh Muhammad Feroze, while speaking at a rally outside the KPC. He added that Begalis should be seen as equals as they are patriotic and have sacrificed a lot for the country. Feroze told The Express Tribune that he and his parents have Pakistani identity cards, but his children cannot get theirs without being hassled by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
The committee’s supreme council member, Haji Abdur Razaq, told The Express Tribune that the term ‘migrants’ should be clarified as his father strived for the establishment of Pakistan, but it was tragic that his children cannot get their identity cards from NADRA. “I was born in PIB Colony in 1954 and have a Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC), but my children have been given the run by NADRA,” said Razaq. He added that first they were sent to NADRA’s Karaz head office and then to the crime branch for investigation and clarification, where it costs Rs15,000 to receive clearance. He demanded that the Chief Justice of Pakistan to provide them their rights as they have played their role in the making of this country.
“We demand that the government provide all Bengalis with national identity cards, passports and legal documents immediately,” said Feroze. He added that the state agencies will start oppressing Bengalis like they did in 1971, but this time they will not back down. “The police, Federal Investigation Agency and other agencies have inflicted cruelty upon us and many Bengalis have been killed.”
Noor Islam, 45, who came from Shah Nawaz Bhutto Colony to participate in the protest, said that he was born and bred in Karachi and will most likely die here, but he was still not accepted as a Pakistani citizen. “The Supreme Court has directed that migrants should be evacuated from Pakistan and we are afraid that the police will start troubling us again,” said Islam.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2012.