Officials demolishing top of houses near US consulate in Karachi

Karachi: Five people have been detained for protesting the demolition of seven residential buildings in Sultanabad near the US consulate. The police gave this information on Wednesday.

The Karachi Bachao Tehreek, a coalition of several political and civil society organisations, was protesting the demolition of houses around three major drains in the metropolis.

It said working class residents of Sultanabad near the US consulate were arrested for ‘peacefully protesting’ against the demolition of their homes.

KBT convenor Khurram Nayar told dawn That on Monday night Kemari’s deputy commissioner Mukhtiar Abro asked residents to vacate their homes because it would be demolished given “security concerns” for the foreign mission.

Police arrested five protesters; DC says illegally building ‘tall buildings’ on small plots

Mr Nair claimed that the residents had already obtained a stay order from the Sindh High Court a week ago.

Despite this, the work of demolition of seven residential buildings started on Tuesday under the supervision of the Deputy Commissioner of the area.

He said some residents tried to film the demolition work and fled to their homes when law enforcers acted, but police took five of them into custody in the evening.

He was initially taken to the Jackson Police Station where activists arrived. Thereafter, he was taken to Docks police station where a case was registered against him on charges of “attempt to murder, rioting and encounter with police”.

The KBT chief said that the arrested civilians were produced in the concerned court, from where they were remanded to two-day police custody.

Mr Khurram claimed that officials were destroying residential buildings because of an ‘alleged security threat’ to the UC consulate.

He said the residents had constructed the buildings and that they had the layout plans approved by the authorities concerned, besides two consulate officials had also visited and allegedly gave ‘approval’ for the construction activities a few years back. .

At the same time, DC-Kemari Abro told dawn that the seven high-rise buildings were built on smaller plots, which were ‘illegal’.

“These structures were a threat to the lives of the people, hence, they are being demolished,” the DC said, adding that the SHC had not given any stay order.

“We will not remove the residents, but the upper floors” [of their houses] Will be demolished,” the DC said.

Kemari SSP Fida Hussain Janwari said five people were arrested and booked after protesting the ‘anti-encroachment operation’.

Police were present there to provide security to the officials of Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), anti-encroachment and revenue department, the official said.

The SSP said that according to DC Kemari, these seven buildings were ‘illegal’, so they were being demolished.

He said the DC had also informed the police that the stay order has been revoked. Hence, the anti-encroachment drive was launched on Tuesday and continued till Wednesday, he said.

Published in Dawn, June 23, 2022