World War One brought in massive changes in the world and the Subcontinent too witnessed the shocks of such awful global disorder. After the war in its reactions, some movements like ‘Hijrat’ and ‘Khilafat’ were kicked off which become quiet after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s historic decision to make Turkey – a secular republic. Besides this, some black laws like the ‘Rowlatt Act’ were also passed to counter the civil rights of the people. Moreover, Russian Revolution also put impacts to some extent on the progressive minds of the Subcontinent including on poets and writers.
Anyway, the political restlessness in the Subcontinent had mounted to such a threatening level that round table conferences were being called. Though all those global and local events were contributing towards an important demand regarding a revolution/social change in the Subcontinent but the need for ‘Hari Tehreek’ in Sindh begins to feel after the inception of ‘Sukkur Barrage Project’.
In Sindh, the British authorities proposed a plan of building the Sukkur Barrage in 1923 which was to be completed by 1932 and the project was going to provide water to millions of acres of land in Sindh. It was the sole reason why Sain G M Syed and others founded an organization with the name ‘Sindh Hari Association’ in 1930 with the objective to make landless Sindhi peasants allot new lands along the Sukkur Barrage’s water distribution route and to some extent, they too became successful in doing that.
In 1936, the restructuring of that association was done and at that time its name was changed to ‘Sindh Hari Committee’ and Abdul Qadir Khan was made its head. Sindh was separated from Bombay in 1936 and after passing the ‘Bombay Tenancy Act’ in 1940, the local peasants also demanded such a pro-peasant law in Sindh. In 1943, thousands of peasants conducted a rally in Hyderabad, and in June of the same year they formed the ‘Tenancy Legislation Committee’.
Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi in 1945, after quitting his civil service joined Hari Committee first as General Secretary and then as President. He wanted to provide peasants with rights lawfully so that they can be saved from being displaced entirely. From 1945 to 1947, ‘Batai Movement’ run in full swing, and many violent incidences also occurred. By then, the number of members of the Hari Committee also increased in many districts of Sindh.
Thousands of peasants surrounded the Sindh Assembly building in 1950 and fortunately, it remained a nonviolent and successful display of power which forced the government to bow down to the demand of peasants and finally passed the Tenancy Act.
The credit of making the Batai Movement successful, demand to bring an end to landlords in 1955 and allotting lands to poor Haris on the Kotri Barrage goes to the Hari Committee. After imposing of One Unit Scheme, the circumstances in Sindh suddenly started to change as Comrade Jatoi joined the Anti-One Unit movement and at the same time he became a substitute for Sindh Hari Committee. He then remained in different jails for a long time (1962 to 1967). In the meantime, Hari Committee’s entire effort remained focused on its leader’s liberty, restoration of provinces’ provincial status, and agriculture reforms.
In 1969, the One-Unit Scheme ended, and in very next year, Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto was raised as a leader of East Pakistan. That means till the freedom of Comrade Jatoi the entire political atmosphere in the country had completely been changed. With the death of Comrade Jatoi in 1970, Hari Committee’s hopes were also dashed and it went in complete quietness.
Sindh Hari Committee’s unsustainable and semi-political structure was said to be one of the major reasons behind its decay. Lack of political planning also affected the politics of the left. Just on the basis of issues committee’s agility and alertness were also a reason behind its breakdown.
After 1970, the politics in Sindh similar to the Hari Committee had been living in different faces like Shaheed Fazil Rahu’s struggle and Hariyani Tehreek etc. Qazi Faiz Muhammad’s memorable character can never be forgotten who also played an important role in the struggle for peasant rights. In 1947, Shaheed Mai Bakhtawar became a symbol of peasant resistance and martyr of Batai Movement. Pathano Unar, Khamiso Khaskheli, Ghulam Mustafa Abbas, Balach Brohi, Nawabshah’s poet Azizullah Majrooh and many others were also among the martyrs of Hari’s Committee’s struggle.
Historically, Sindh since participating in the freedom movement against the British rule to Anti One Unit Movement and Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) has always remained at the forefront of every struggle. Sindh’s historic resistance, nonviolent political belief, and demand for a free democratic system in the country make it matchless among other provinces of the country. Our young generations should learn from such a rich political background we own.
(The writer is a Pakistan-based columnist and he can be reached at email@example.com)