The ongoing operation against encroachment entered its crucial phase on Sunday, 11th of November as the respective authorities destroyed more than a thousand shops in the four markets on the surrounding of Empress Market, in an effort to restore the British-era structure to its former glory.
The campaign is being conducted as a collaborative effort between Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and other civic bodies, backed by directives of the Supreme Court. So far, no troublesome incidents have occurred besides one when a shopkeeper set his own shop on fire to protest.
Promises of alleged alternative places have been made particularly for people who had been giving rent to KMC under a 30-year-old agreement, but no further appointments done so far.
Wasim Akhtar, mayor Karachi, also visited the cleared spot and announced the establishment of public parks there, as was the initial master plan of the area.
The shopkeepers ended a protest sit-in on Saturday after successful negotiations with the Karachi commissioners in which it was agreed upon that they would get until Sunday noon to gather their belongings and evacuate the area.
“As a goodwill gesture and in compliance with the SC order we agreed to end the protest with a heavy heart,” informed Iqbal Kakar, President of All Empress Market Associations.
Unfortunately, he said that the authorities went against the agreement and started off their operation at 7 am, giving shopkeepers no time to take their goods which are reported to have been worth RS450 million.