by Zia Ur Rehman
September 21, 2015
Ten-year-old Raju wants to go to school, at least he says so, but spends his days gambling or playing mini-snooker in narrow, filthy streets with drug addicts loitering nearby.
He lives in Laalu Marwari Goth, one of the three Hindu-populated neighbourhoods – the other two being Mohalla Jina Daas Maharaj and Maghoo Mohalla – that lie along Jogi Morr on National Highway opposite the Malir district jail.
Raju and other children living in these localities do not go to a school because there are none there.
Three clusters of houses, mainly small wooden huts and semi-pucca houses make up these neighbourhoods where around 800 Marwari-Gujrati-speaking Hindu families live in impoverished conditions.
The residents do not have access to safe drinking water and are deprived of a sewerage system, schools, and dispensaries.
In the absence of a sanitation system, the air is permeated with the stench of sewage water and garbage on the streets.
Although the three neighbourhoods exist for more than 60 years, the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board and the K-Electric are yet to provide connections to the residents. “I’ve spent my entire life here, but haven’t seen any development work take place here so far,” said Jayati, 55, a resident.
A Hindu parliamentarian in the previous provincial government had approved setting up of a primary school for boys in Laalu Marwari Goth on the request of the area’s elders.
In fact Laalu Marwari, the head of the community, had donated his own land for the school.
“Government officials only conducted surveys and prepared a feasibility report for the school, but despite the passage of three or four years, its construction still hasn’t been started because the government is yet to allocate funds for it,” Marwari told The News. He added that influential land grabbers, with the help of local politicians, had tried several times to occupy the school land, but were stopped from doing so by the residents.
Abdul Hakeem Baloch and Sajid Jokhio, the area’s MNA and MPA, have been appointed federal and provincial ministers respectively, but have not announced any development project for the residents so far.
The residents mainly work as daily-wage labourers in nearby factories or sell birds and eggs.
They visit the poultry farms in the neighbouring areas of Bin Qasim Town, buy birds and eggs and sell them on National Highway.
Recently, Javed Afridi, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader, set up a camp in the area to help residents in receiving Benazir Income Support Programme cards.
Sanjesh S Dhanja, the head of the Pakistan Hindu Seva, an NGO working for the welfare of the country’s Hindu community, said the residents of Jogi Morr live well below the poverty line and the children are exposed to many easily preventable diseases.
“Our organisation has been trying to highlight the issues of the area and pressure the government to provide basic amenities to the residents,” he added.