–“The produce belongs to the tiller”

 

Born in Larkana in 1901, Hyder Baksh Jatoi is also known as “Baba-e-Sindh” because of his struggles for the rights of the most downtrodden section of the province, the Haaris or the landless peasants. He resigned from a prestigious Government Job to join Sindh Harri Committee in 1945. Sindh Harri Committee was one of the most dominant voices for the peasants of Sindh with the support of such mainstream political parties as Congress. Through the platform of the Committee, Jatoi organized many protests and demonstrations of the peasants against the economic exploitation of feudal lords. This helped uproot the centuries long fear of landlords in the hearts of the peasants and gave them hope, strength to stand up against injustice. Under Jatoi’s leadership, the Committee pressurized the government to legislate such labor protection laws as the tenancy act of 1950. With the arrival of General Ayub’s dictatorship, however, Jatoi was jailed which severely thwarted the workings of Sindh Harri Committee. He also continued advocating for the rights of the poor through his poetry. He died in 1970.

Recently, many activists in Sindh have pushed their government to amend the tenancy act of 1950 since it fails to grant majority of peasants their due rights. The Government, however, does not seem to be interested in the protection and welfare of the most invisible, poor and vulnerable human beings of our country. We perhaps cannot do much to save Muslims of Kashmir but we can do much to save Muslims dying in Gaddani Ship breaking yard or in coal mines of Balochistan.