HARIS Haris, or tenants at will, constitute the majority of the agricultural work force in Sindh province Their poverty was the subject of several government reports, the most detailed of which was produced by the Government Hari Enquiry Committee The committee was established in 1947, and after working for a year, submitted its report in 1948 One member of the committee, Muhammad Masud Khadarposh, was convinced that the only way to solve the problem of the poverty faced by the haris was to give them the ownership of the land they cultivated Other members of the committee were not prepared to accept such a radical approach Their reluctance to go along with Khadarposh persuaded him to write his well-known “note of dissent” Masud Khadarposh gave a vivid account of the plight of the haris According to him, fear reigns supreme in the life of the hari-fear of imprisonment, fear of losing the land he is allowed to work on, fear of losing his children into servitude and his wife to the landlord, and fear of losing his life The zamindar (landlord) can deal with him almost at will, unconstrained by law but encouraged by custom The landlord has enough political and social power to have the officialdom always on his side

Section 110 of the Criminal Procedure Court, which allows the police to detain any person for four weeks without trial, was the weapon most feared by the haris In order to incarcerate a hari, the police had only to show the magistrate that the person in question was suspected of disturbing public peace Although Khadarposh was not able to persuade the committee to adopt a radical solution to improve the situation of the haris, his note of dissent had a profound impact It is read to this day by social and political workers

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