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TAHIRA SHAH PAID TRIBUTES:MARTYR OF POOR

November 17, 2015

TRIBUTES PAID TO TAHIRA SHAH:MARTYR OF INDUS ,DEFEMDER OF FISHERMEN

BY ABBAS KASSAR

HYDERABAD, Nov 17, 2015 –Water activists, nature conservationists and those have been involved in the campaign for rehabilitation of Indus Delta eco-system paid tribute to Tahira Shah, the defender of peasant and fisherwomen rights. They were speaking at a book launch titled ‘Martyr for the Indus’ here on Wednesday at a local hotel.

The gathering attracted community activists, writers, journalists and advocates of protecting natural water and food resources, linking role of late daring lady, who fought for the cause, motivating peasant and fisherwomen in the province. Dr Fauzia Saeed, the development activist of Islamabad, Anosha Alam, women rights activist from Karachi, Aijaz Mangi  writer, Muhammad Ali Shah, PFF chairperson, Anb Gopang, a folklore writer and Yasmeen Shah jointly inaugurated the book.

The book contains articles and messages came from the leading institutions and their heads, who recalled their association with this woman, came from lower middle class family of coastal village Ibrahim Hydri and then inspired the world leaders through her work. The speakers shared their feelings while working with Tahira Shah.

Tahira died in a road accident on March 10, 2015 while traveling to Badin city to lead a rally for the Restoration of the Rivers on the occasion of being a part of celebration of the International Day of Action for Rivers and Against Dams March 14.

Aly Ercelan, an economist and keeping eye over the depleting water and food resources in Pakistan, tracing journey of Tahira Shah and his association with her writes that “while initiating work for peasant women, she started off infusing the same spirit in them that she once infused in fisherwomen that ultimately laid the foundation of what we know all “vocal women fisherwomen of the coast.” Tahira had the guts to move the masses no matter how tough situation turned. She turned even tough when the going got tough, he said.

Ercelan writes that “the hope still remains alive when the poor masses especially the women still keep uniting under one platform, trying to follow in the footsteps of Tahira.”

Natalia, Coordination Committee member World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP), Herman kumara of Sri Lankan National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, Peter Bosshard of International Rivers Network, International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF), Fida Soomro, now working in Badin coastal areas and other people and institutions showed their respect to this fisherwoman.

Alexis Fossi, a development expert from Franc recalling the days he lived in coastal village Ibahim Hydri writes that “I had the chance to meet Tahra Shah in 2006, while working with a project focusing on rehabilitation of Indus Delta eco-region. Once, I followed her team to Mubarak Goth, Hawks Bay in Karachi and I saw all the motivated women listening to her and participating in the meeting.”

Shahid Shah, a senior reporter of The News accredits Tahira Ali, who helped him to write a story on working fisherwomen in coastal area that made him won a prestigious Alfred Friendly and Daniel Pearl Fellowship in 2006. “There were several other stories, which I completed with her help,” Shah writes.

Shujauddin Qureshi, now associated with PILER recalls the long struggle against the contract system dominated law enforcing agencies, which led Tahira to succeed despite being faced threats of dire consecutions. Shuja at that time was involved practically to document the struggle and developed media stories to highlight the issues.

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