April 27, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
Celebrated writer Taj Joyo has said that slapping sedition and terrorism cases against those who were attending veteran nationalist leader GM Syed’s death anniversary, was an attempt to curb public gatherings in the Sindhi icon’s hometown.
The crackdown occurred on Monday night, on several people including women, as well as activists of Sindhi nationalist groups. They were arrested as they were returning home after attending an event in commemoration of GM Syed.
Taj Joyo was nominated along with his son Sarang Joyo and his daughter-in-law Sohni Joyo in a first investigation report (FIR) registered against 190 activists after they attended a function to mark the 27th death anniversary of nationalist leader and intellectual GM Syed in the Sann town of district Jamshoro district on April 25. The activists were charged with offences of sedition and terrorism.
Out of the total number of people, 87 arrested suspects including 25 women, were remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by an anti-terrorism court in Jamshoro on April 26.
In the FIR, the complainant, Sajidullah Kumbhar, station house officer of the Chachar police station, claimed that the suspects raised anti-state and anti-army slogans during the event of the death anniversary. The accused had also raised slogans for the separation of Sindh from the country, said the SHO in the FIR.
Speaking to Voicepk, Joyo said that state authorities were deliberately trying to repress the gathering of activists of Sindhi nationalist parties at Sann town in particular as it is considered the political heartland of Sindhi nationalism.
“This year, five nationalist parties had collectively participated in the death anniversary and had laid a floral wreath together at GM Syed’s grave,” Joyo told Voicepk. He added that the police had also detained men, women, and children who had no affiliation with the nationalist parties but had only been visiting Sann to pay homage to the late Sindhi icon.
“Even the women and children were detained for a night without food or water,” he said. He said the detained women were asked about the identity of their husbands who were later also nominated in the FIR.
Joyo said the Jamshoro police had not contacted him over the case yet but the Hyderabad and Jamshoro Bar Associations had assured him that they would represent all those nominated in the FIRs and were under arrest in the sedition cases.
In 2020, Taj Joyo had been nominated for the Presidential Pride of Performance award but due to the fact that his son Sarang Joyo (also nominated in the recent FIR), Taj refused to accept the award in protest.
Joyo’s son who is a human rights activist, and a research associate of Shaheed Zulifqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST), had been actively campaigning for the release of missing persons of Sindh.
“Security checks had been placed in GM Syed’s hometown and visitors are told to show their identity cards,” Abbasi said expressing his anger. He said state repression was turning people into aliens in their homeland. He said the Sindh Saba was holding a protest to condemn the sedition cases against the activists and others in Jamshoro.
INTELLECTUALS JOIN IN CONDEMNATION
Condemning the sedition cases, author and feminist Amar Sindhu said peaceful workers were not only harassed but were also slapped with terrorism offences in the FIR. Sindhu said the FIR reflected state terrorism which might cause even more terrorism.
“A night before the death anniversary, Rangers and police personnel raided the houses of workers and picked up women there too,” Sindhu said.
According to Sindhu, people’s grievances regarding the relationship of the state with Sindh were deeply reflected in the politics of the province. “These are the grievances that have shaped Sindhi nationalism represented by its icon GM Syed,” she added.
Veteran nationalist Dr Nazir Khokhar and his wife Azra Khokhar; Farman Soomro and his wife Firdous Soomro; Mohammad Ali Ujjan, Ayaz Dasti, Gulzar Shah, Amir Ali Thaheem, Mohammad Tahir Afridi, Mohammad Nasir, Saeed Ahmed and Ghulam Nabi were among the arrested activists.