The unchecked massive granite extraction from Karoonjhar hills by government-sponsored contractors received widespread condemnation by people from different walks of life from across the country and beyond. Thousands of people including writers, poets, environmentalists, rights activists, sportsmen, artists and leaders of different political parties on Sunday took to Twitter and other social media sites with the hashtag of #SaveKaroonjhar. The star emerging cricketer from Larkana Shahnawaz Dahani wrote: “Karoonjhar must be declared a World Heritage Site so that its culture, ecosystem and way of life can be preserved at Karoonjhar hills for future generations.” #SaveKaroonjhar remained among the top trends on Twitter all Sunday, during which more than 30,000 people from different walks of life tweeted by adding pictures of the hills and demanded their protection and preservation.
Acclaimed writer and activist Jami Chandio said that continued commercial exploitation of the hills was a direct attack on the beauty and history of Sindh, and demanded action against those who are still involved in such activities despite the ban imposed by the Sindh High Court. “Karoonjhar hills are just heaps of stones but they are of great historical, religious and cultural significance which need to be protected,” said eminent educationist Partab Shivani. Shivani added it was a very cruel joke with the people, and demanded that PPP leaders including Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and others must take notice of the unchecked illegal practice of granite extraction with heavy machinery. Nisar Khokar, known writer and journalist, wrote that damaging the Karoonjhar hills amounted to killing the natural beauty and centuries-old culture of Sindh and its people. The iconic Saraiki poet and novelist Riffat Abbas, taking part in the drive, lamented that his heart was bleeding after knowing that extraction was still going on by greedy people.
“I am ready to come to Thar to personally participate in the protest, since the Karoonjhar hills are close to my heart and imagination,” Rifat added. Imam Janjhi, the eminent revolutionary poet, said that only collective protest against such cruel practices could save the natural beauty of the hills, which attract tens of thousands of tourists from Pakistan and beyond every year. Khalid Jogi, another writer and anthropologist, said that it was a very dangerous practice to damage hills which have numerous sacred places and their stones were stained with the blood of freedom fighters including Rooplo Kolhi, who had laid down his life while fighting with the invading British forces in the 1850s.
Allah Rakhio Khoso, Zulfikar Ali Khoso and other leaders of Karoonjhar Sujag Forum thanked several thousand people for their support and love towards the Karoonjhar hills, by making it the top trend on Twitter and deplored that despite the continued protests, the extraction of both granite stones and gravel was being committed by contractors.
“The contractors have been using granite stones in the construction of small dams to store rainwater from different points of the hills to save money,” they said. The leaders deplored that the practice had already considerably damaged the hills and feared that it would terribly affect the historical sites in the hills of the district – and that exploitation of these resources is not compliant with the orders of the double bench of the Sindh High Court.