BADIN   -  The large number of fishers gathered in Badin on Thursday to register their protest against the alleged move of Sindh government to impose again the contractual system on the waters of coastal belt and other parts of the province.

The protesters including men, women and children gathered at DC Chowk Badin from where they marched towards Badin Press Club where they staged the demonstration for several hours in favour of their demands.

Syed Mohammad Ali Shah, chairman of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, came down hard on the concerned functionaries of Sindh government to hatch the conspiracies to deprive thousands of the fishermen of their right to catch in the waters in the belt. He said that an anti-fishers DG Fisheries Sindh in a letter through the provincial secretary had requested Chief Minister Sindh to stop allowing the fishers to catch few months ago.

He alleged that now they were trying to occupy all 1,209 waters of the province while over five hundred waters had already been occupied.

Shah made it clear that Sindh Assembly had passed the bill in favour of fishers with regard to their rights on the waters of the province way back in 2011 after their historic struggle for their fundamental right on waters .

Shah also informed that Sindh High Court two years back had also ordered the Sindh government for the removal of all illegal occupation on the waters of Sindh on the petition filed by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum.

“All attempts to abolish the bill will be resisted strongly,” he added and asked the concerned high-ups to issue the licenses forthwith to the real fishers. He demanded that all the people, who had occupied the waters in Badin and other districts be taken to task and local fishers be again allowed to catch fish.

Shah said that awarding contracts of fishing both in sea and other waters of lower parts of Sindh to influential figures  was not only an attempt to snatch the morsel from the mouth of the community but was also illegal adding he vowed to continue their peaceful protest till their due demands were met.

He recalled that the slain leader of PPP Benazir Bhutto had opposed the contracts on the waters but the present rulers including the provincial minister were bent upon to render thousands people jobless. Mr Shah said that all the people engaged in fishing should be issued the licenses for the catch in all waters of the belt.

He deplored that severe water crisis and devastating impacts of the climate change had already played havoc with the marine life in the coastal belt and people were forced to live miserable lives. Shah also lamented that due to the rainwater stagnant in most of the villages in the coastal belt people were facing the hardships due to breeding of the mosquitoes and other insects.

The local leaders of PFP including Umar Mallah, Mithan Mallah, Sajan Shaikh and others also spoke on the occasion and vowed to continue their protest against the decision of Sindh government to deprive their fundamental right on the waters.