The code of conduct for the collection of hides was the same one issued by the home department each year on the occasion of Eidul Azha. What was different this time was the fact that it was actually implemented — a pleasant surprise for the citizens of Karachi, who were no longer forced to give the hides of their sacrificial animals at gunpoint.
The implementation was made possible by the law enforcers, who arrested over 400 people across the province for violating the code and also seized over 20,000 hides during the three days of Eid.
Read: Tis the season: 44 points designated to collect hides of animals
The strict action by law enforcers, particularly the paramilitary force, forced Karachi's largest political party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and its charity wing, Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF), to call off its operations in the wake of what they termed 'hindrance' created by the Rangers. For almost the last three decades, the MQM had been the largest collector of hides in Karachi. The party's leaders alleged that they were subjected to large-scale victimisation, raids, arrests of workers and volunteers and harassment by the Rangers in Karachi and other parts of the province.
Rangers claimed to have arrested miscreants who were found violating the code of conduct and forcibly collecting of hides of sacrificial animals. They also seized hides from these suspects. "We have seized 18,037 hides and also arrested 356 people, of which 288 were handed over to the police, 32 were released, while 36 others involved in heinous crimes remain under investigation," the Rangers said in a statement on Sunday. "Action was taken against those organisations that were violating the code of conduct, namely the MQM, Jamaat-e-Islami, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Dawat-e-Islami, Sunni Tehreek and members of the Memon community."
Read: Hide collection: Code of conduct issued
Meanwhile, the police also arrested over 50 people and seized over 1,700 hides.
KKF backs out
Perhaps the most interesting development this Eid was the KKF's announcement to shut down its operations. The announcement came on the second day of Eid (September 26) when KKF trustee and a senior MQM leader, Dr Farooq Sattar, addressed a press conference accompanied by other trustees of the charity. "The collection of animal hides on behalf of the charity is an annual Eid event for the volunteers of the KKF. Despite having received official permission to collect hides by the commissioner of Karachi, the paramilitary force did not allow the KKF to freely collect hides throughout Sindh," claimed MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar. He alleged that more than a 100 truck-loads of donated hides were seized by the Rangers in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas and other cities. Sattar further alleged that hundreds of MQM workers, office-bearers and volunteers of the KKF were arrested by Rangers.
Read: Collecting hides: Home department issues code of conduct
More than 700 hides of sacrificial animals were seized by Rangers personnel during a raid at the MQM camp situated near Ghaznavi Park, Miani Road, in Sukkur on the first day of Eidul Azha. A worker was also arrested from the camp but was later released. According to Rangers officials, MQM workers in violation of the code of conduct, had not only established the camp, but possessed a copy of the permit, which was not acceptable.
In Hyderabad, dozens of political workers and supporters were arrested and thousands of animal hides were seized in several raids carried out by the Rangers. The action was mostly seen in Hyderabad, followed by fewer arrests in Nawabshah and Jamshoro districts.
Where did the hides go?
The hides seized during these raids were handed over to various welfare organisations, according to officials. A number of hides were also spoilt due to not being treated within the stipulated time.
The Edhi Foundation collected more hides as compared to last year. "Last year, people donated nearly 7,000 hides to us but this year, they donated nearly 12,000," said Faisal Edhi while speaking to The Express Tribune.
*With additional reporting by Z Ali from Hyderabad and Sarfaraz Memon from Sukkur
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2015.
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