Anti-encroachment drive: Five injured in clash in Faisalabad’s Railway Colony

Protesters block railway track, hold up and attack trains.


Shamsul Islam June 16, 2014
Residents voiced their discontent against the anti-encroachment campaign. PHOTO: ONLINE

FAISALABAD:


Five people were injured on Monday when the residents of Railway Colony clashed with police during a protest against an anti-encroachment operation.


The protesters also blocked the railway track and attacked two trains with stones.

The clash erupted after the authorities demolished encroachments, including a mosque, in Railway Colony with the help of Railway Police.

Hundreds of colony residents thronged the Faisalabad Railway Station and blocked the train track.

They stopped two trains, Karakoram Express and the Karachi-bound Pakistan Express.

They hurled stones, breaking the windowpanes of Pakistan Express. Some of the protesters tried to attack Karakoram Express also but the police stopped them.

Reinforcements

The authorities summoned more police personnel to the scene who used batons and tear gas to disperse the angry crowd. The protesters also pelted police with stones.

Five protesters, identified as Rashid Ahmad, Farhan Ali, Ghulam Dastagir, Abdul Razzaq and Nahida Begum, were injured in the clash and taken to a hospital.

The colony residents shouted slogans against Pakistan Railway. They said the authorities had launched the operation without giving them any notice.

“They started razing the encroachments without any prior intimation. They did not give us enough time to move to another place or save our belongings,” Ghulam Nabi, one of the protesters, told the media.

Muhammad Jamil, another protester, said he had been living in the colony for over two decades. He said he had not received any notice for vacating his property.

Without a warning

“They came here without a warning and started razing our homes with heavy machinery, including bulldozers. They have made us homeless in this very hot weather.”

Nawaz Akram said he had served Pakistan Railways for more than 35 years. “They destroyed my house that I had lived in since 1980,” he said.

Ceasefire

Railway authorities held a dialogue with the protesters after police failed to control the situation. The protesters called off the demonstration after the authorities stopped the operation against encroachments.

Madina Town Superintendent of Police (SP) Nasir Sial said those who had been arrested during the clash had been released.

Meanwhile, residents of the colony said they had formed a committee to protect their houses.

Muhammad Ismail, a resident of the colony, said the “committee will decide the mode of agitation if the railway administration tried to bulldoze our homes”.

Farooq Ahmad, a spokesman for Pakistan Railways, said they had repeatedly warned the encroachers to vacate the land. “We had told them that we would launch an operation if they did not vacate the encroached properties.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2014.

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