ISLAMABAD - Hundreds of slum dwellers of I-11 held a charged protest demonstration Wednesday against the impending eviction operation that has been announced by the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration and the Capitol Development Authority (CDA).

The demonstration was attended by representatives of various katchi abadis across the federal capital including H-11, I-11, H-9, F-7, F-6, G-7, G-8, and Bari Imam Muslim Colony, along with student activists of National Students Federation (NSF) and workers of the Awami Workers Party (AWP).

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman of the Katchi Abadi Alliance and Punjab Secretary of the AWP, Dr Aasim Sajjad Akhtar said that the PML-N government has deceptively used a court order issued by a one-member bench of the Islamabad High Court to order a ‘grand operation’ against katchi abadis.

He said that the interior ministry is responsible for ensuring peace and order but instead it has announced a plan that will completely destroy the peace in Islamabad because katchi abadi residents will never surrender their basic human right to shelter in the face of state repression.

The AWP leader also criticised other political parties for remaining completely silent on an issue affecting at least 100,000 residents of Islamabad.

Local alliance organiser and AWP leader Fazal Shah said that the residents of katchi abadis are being depicted as unruly elements with no justification. “We are interested in sitting across the table with the ICT administration and CDA officials so as to evolve a sustainable solution to the katchi abadi phenomenon because summary evictions are a knee-jerk reaction which do not address the shortage of affordable housing in Islamabad for low-income workers,” they said.

He said that Islamabad is the fastest growing city in the country, with an annual population growth rate of eleven percent. Most of the in-migrants are from working-class backgrounds and therefore katchi abadis will continue to proliferate until and unless some thought and consideration is dedicated to meaningfully dealing with the housing shortage.

Other leaders including Shehak Sattar, Muzzaffar Khan, Zaheer Shah, Bushra Masih, Boota Mistri, Ramzan, Majid Shinwari and Mufti Abdullah said that all katchi abadi residents of Islamabad would come together to resist any violent attempt to bulldoze any individual settlement. Therefore all responsibility for loss of life and property would lie entirely at the feet of the city’s administrators.