Today, when the day dawned, “Sindhu” came rushing towards me and started whispering something into my left ear. Following is what her whispers spoke about.
“O son of Indus Valley Civilization, do you know who am I?” said Sindhu. Following an unusual whisper, having lost my head, because of feeling giddy and still being sleepy, I could not respond to the whisper I heard. A smoky, muddy watery image started to occasionally appear and disappear in front of my eyes. It almost seemed infinite in its magnitude. Having known the helplessness within me, the whisper again continued, “Relax, remain in your bed and listen. People of Sindh, Pakistan call me Sindhu (One of the names for River Indus). I am a thousands-years old river with thousands of names in several regions of Asia including Tibet, Northern India, Lake Mansarover, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, Giligit, Baltistan and the Arabian Sea. I have a total drainage area exceeding 1,165,000 km2. I have an annual flow of around 207 km3. Out of all the names given to me, I love the one and only that is, ‘Sindhu’. The love with the name exists since my existence and journey of thousands of miles ends up here in Sindh, the land of peace. ‘Sindhu’ makes me all smiles and in return I spread smiles for indigenous people there.”
“When peace-loving innocent fisherfolk of Sindh arrive at my banks, I find a sight for my sore eyes. This is because during my journey through various parts of the continent, I suffer. I suffer because of dams being built at my very eyes. I suffer since people who are addicted to power stop my natural flow; stop me to come to Sindh with all my heart. My heart hurts when my waves can’t dance. My heart bleeds when my water is put under the siege of deadly dams that intend to snatch bread and butter of the people who I feed. Due to all this, sometimes I feel I have been sent behind bars for I am barred from reaching my coast where malnourished and underprivileged fisherfolk await my arrival with their boats, shanty homes and flags.”
“Dear Son, this all is not new to me. This has been happening since times immemorial. I am neither defeated nor dead. Never was I and never shall I be! But I want you to give my word to my people in Sindh. Tell them to continue their untiring efforts for my well-being. Tell them that I rejuvenate when they unite to fight for my waters, when they chant slogans for my survival, when they hoist their flags bearing my name, when they rally in my waters to tell my enemies that death of their polluted vested interests is their destiny.”
“Dear Son of the Indus Valley civilization, one last word. Do tell my people that their struggle blesses me with thousands of more years of life. Tell them their fight makes me immortal…!”
On this awe-inspiring morning, I got out of bed, picked up my pen, and started to put this precious happening on paper to be later on shared with the ones for whom it was meant to be conveyed…!
- Roshan Bhatti is a young human rights activist in Pakistan. He is a Monitoring & Reporting Offider at Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum.
- Founded in 1998, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) is a unique civil society organization which works for advancement of social, economic, cultural and political rights of fishing and peasant communities in Pakistan. PFF enjoys mass support and has membership of more than 70,000 members in Pakistan including Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan. During its struggle of more than 16 years, PFF has achieved a number of accomplishments which have propelled its status to few of the dynamic mass movements of Pakistan. PFF being one of the biggest social movements of the country representing marginalized fisher folk and peasant communities has striven through a true political and democratic process. Its struggle mainly targets a wide array of issues which are directly or indirectly associated with about 4 million fishers in Pakistan.