LAHORE: Residents of katchi abadis (slum settlements) have every right to a roof over their heads, Awami Workers Party president Abid Hassan Minto said at a protest demonstration at Charing Cross on Thursday. The protest was organised by the AWP and the Democratic Students Alliance to express solidarity with residents of a katchi abadi in I-11 sector in Islamabad who are being evicted by the Capital Development Authority on orders of the Interior Ministry. “The government allowed these people to settle here and now all of a sudden they want them to leave,” said Minto. He said providing alternative accommodation in this case was necessary. AWP general secretary Farooq Tariq said the government had allowed use of tear gas and bullets on unarmed citizens. Tariq said 2,500 families – more than 8,000 women and 12,000 children – would be impacted by the evictions. He said the right to housing was enshrined in Article 38-D. “The National Housing Plan 2001 says eviction of residents of katchi abadis, without providing alternative housing, is against the law,” he said. The protesters demanded that the government release six party workers who had been arrested in Islamabad along with almost 30 residents of the katchi abadi.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2015.