Jamshed Dasti, an independent MNA from South Punjab, was arrested for opening water gates of a canal for the deprived farmers in Muzaffargarh. But Dasti’s worst crime is that he truly belongs to the poor masses, the fact that irks the wealthy and inherited politicians, especially the Nawaz government that cannot even digest ‘any dissenting opinion’.
The arrest of Dasti was invoked after ‘godfather’ PM Nawaz Sharif and Khadim-e-Aala Shahbaz took notice of the case registered by irrigation department.
However, Jamshed Dasti was under the government’s radar since he protested during the President’s speech in the parliament and was allegedly threatened by one ruling ministers for the consequences.
What Dasti had done was termed as ‘interference in official work’ but what those officials were doing by not providing the farmers with their legitimate share of water was not taken into consideration.
Jamshed Dasti is not a landlord, neither had he opened the water gates for his own benefit, rather he had to take this measure to save the crops of poor farmers. On the other hand, influential landlords, mostly politicians, frequently steal canal water from across the province but hardly any ‘notice’ is taken by the prime minister or the CM Punjab.
According to a report published in 2015, farmers at the tail-ends of irrigation system were being deprived of 60 to 65 percent of their due share of water owing to water theft by mighty landlords.
Same is the case of the electricity theft, where hardly any action is taken against the influential thieves rather common consumers have to pay the price of this theft.
The inaction of the opposition over the arrest of Jamshed Dasti reflected true face of the status quo because Dasti is an independent and poorest MNA in the Parliament and is often taken as an alien among the wealthy and ‘seasoned politicians’.
Mainstream media had also not taken the arrest of Dasti so seriously the way a picture leak of prime minister’s son from the JIT investigation room got the attention of the traditional and social media.
South Punjab is massively neglected in the provision of economic infrastructure and public service delivery and worst is that there is no sufficient political pressure on the government for development in the area.
Jamshed Dasti is not only a powerful voice of the South Punjab but also has emerged from the poor masses by challenging and defeating feudal politicians of his area. He fearlessly speaks for the rights of the masses and demands for the separate province.
We live in a country where people protesting for their right are sent behind the bars while those who kill innocent people in broad daylight go scot free. No one has forgotten the carnage of Model Town as only Gullo Butt who broke the windscreens was sentenced but the culprits who killed 14 innocent people and injured 100 have not faced the justice yet.
People opt to different tactics of protests for the acceptance of their demand that may result in horrific consequences but Dasti had only opened the water gate not breached the canal after the protest.
In February 2016, violent protests erupted in Haryana, India, when rural Jat cast came out calling for greater access to government jobs and destroyed water infrastructure in Haryana. This left water supply disrupted in Delhi and government was forced to accept their demand.
Further neglect of South Punjab may result in the resentment in the poor masses and they may come out to challenge the writ of the government that has already been damaged, at least morally, by the Panamagate scandal.
Bothe central and Punjab government should understand the grievances and water woes of the poor masses and small farmers of the South Punjab rather than taking so-called ‘stern actions’ against the people’s representatives.
Credits: Ayaz Mahmood Khan