Fisherfolk accuse minister of kidnapping PFF chair

KARACHI: Renowned civil right activists and chairman Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) Muhammad Ali Shah was kidnapped and tortured by the henchmen of PPP leader and Sindh Minister for Livestock & Fisheries Muhammad Ali Malkani, claimed PFF spokesperson Jamil Junjo.

However, Malkani denied kidnapping or tutoring Shah and said some of his local opponents are using Shah against him (Malkani) on political basis.

According to Junejo, Shah was visiting different inland water lakes in Sujawal district with his friends and office bearers of PFF, when the armed henchmen of Malkani kidnapped Shah and district president PFF Noor Muhammad and took them to the personal Bunglow of Makani in Chhachh Jahankhan in Shahbander Tehsil of district Thatta and detained them for four hours and severely tortured them due to which Noor Muhammad injured seriously,” claimed Jamil Junejo.

However, Muhammad Ali Malkani refused such happening and said that Muhammad Ali Shah in support of his opponents, making such dramas.

“I was in Karachi, when my supporters informed me that Shah had brawl with some local fishermen on a lake and then Shah came with fishermen to my house, where my supporters made conciliation between both party and even my supporters offered Shah tea and Sindhi Ajrak, but he later he made this drama,” Malkani told Daily Times over telephone.

This is not a new incident in which both parties had not opposed each other. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum is a right based organization working for the betterment of fishermen communities and it had opposed a supporter of Malkani who, according to PFF has occupied Kun Parou Lake; spread over 1,000 acres in Sujawal district.

According to official data there 1,209 freshwater bodies or lakes in the Sindh province but most of them were under occupation of ‘influential’ persons, where in the past several indigenous fishermen were fishing on their small boats.

After occupying the lakes, the influential with the help of police stationed private gunmen on these lakes and did allow poor fishermen to fish from these lakes.

In 2011, Sindh Assembly amended the Sindh Fisheries Act, 1980, to do away with contract system for fishing in freshwater bodies and introduce license system and licenses were issued to the fishermen, but despite that fishermen are not allowed for fishing on most of these lakes.

Not this alone, but influential after the fishing licenses, reoccupied the lakes by converting them into fish farms or personal land and displacing fishing community whose only source of livelihood was fishing.

Published in Daily Times, December 26th 2017.