Family attempts suicide again

Woman doused herself, kids with kerosene when Awan ignored protest, ran into oncoming traffic hoping to be a casualty.


Sher Khan November 10, 2010

LAHORE: A family from Bahawalpur that has set up home on a footpath in front of the Lahore Press Club attempted suicide for the second time, yesterday, in front of the Aiwan-e-Iqbal entrance to attract the attention of Federal Law Minister Babar Awan who had given a speech there earlier.

Rajab Hussain, told The Express Tribune, that his wife doused herself and their kids with kerosene after their protest had not gained the attention of Awan. After the police stopped them from lighting themselves, she tried running into the oncoming traffic hoping to be a casualty in an accident.

Hussain was the first of several families that have settled on the footpath behind the Governor’s House. The green belt is now home to several protestors in hope for justice and government support on a wide variety of issues.

Hussain said that the children roamed barely clothed on the sidewalk while their parents waited in vain for some sort of government action.

Families claim that horticulture authorities purposely spray them with water hoping to unsettle them from their current lodgings. Many of the children seem to be ill.

An old couple, from Rajanpur, arrived two weeks after the flood had washed away their home and most of their family. They said they had been waiting for the local government to provide some compensation for their half marla house but so far had seen no relief. The couple hoped to get some money before returning home.

“The government has pushed us to the ground.” said Ghulam Sarwar wearing a haggard and worn jacket. “The Benazir Income Support Programme has failed us.”

His near-tears wife Mai Ghulam elaborated, “We cannot really do anything and there is nothing, no clothes, nothing to put on, we are naked.”

Another family currently finds itself begging for food and blankets for the upcoming winter. Most of their food comes in the free meals on offer at various shrines. “The situation is very bleak. The kids are getting very sick and we have nowhere to go,” said Alice, the mother of the family of 18.

They moved here two months ago to escape from violence, Alice said. She said four men armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol broke into their family quarters in Sheikhupura. One of them stood guard outside the house while the other three raped her niece Aliya, she said.

Mansoor says he was then kidnapped by a local former nazim and beaten and tortured. He says he was imprisoned and forced to work 15 hours a day. One night he escaped and took a bus to Lahore.

The landlords turned their ire on the rest of the family, which also fled to Lahore after the Human Liberation Commission of Pakistan (HLCP), an NGO, offered to help them with accommodation and legal expertise. HLCP president Aslam Pervez said the family would be safer staying outside the Press Club.

The other family in the area arrived from Gujranwala nearly 6 months ago also in reaction to ill treatment by landowners who had promised to pay a salary of Rs6,000 to the family but instead would pay Rs1,500 while making them work extra long hours. Shamim, one of the elder women, said that the many of the girls would be abused and required to pick up feces as well.

“We need a house, the situation is bad as we have nowhere to hide,” said Asmaa who was washing the children in the greenbelt. “Our children are walking naked. We have had a child born on the footpath.”

Asmaa said that the families were growing tired of the streets as they had been living under difficult circumstances and without the governments support. After Eid, she said, the families would continue to protest and if that did not work the families would attempt mass suicide using gasoline.

Police officialS in the area said that these people deserved to be helped and rehabilitated. “The media should highlight this issue so that the government takes action,” he said.

An official from the District Coordination Officer’s office said he was unsure which government institution was supposed to deal with the issue. He said that the number of homeless people in Lahore was growing and most of them were labourers from the countryside who had come to the city looking for work.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2010.

COMMENTS (5)

raheel | 11 years ago | Reply This is just dispicable...our country is dispicable
sana | 11 years ago | Reply where the hell all those money gone which over so called Government had taken for the sack of floods victims over all party leaders are useless and corrupt that why over all system is corrupt, oh God
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