Court orders closure of Art & Craft Village festival

ISLAMABAD: The artists community who gathered at ‘Potohari: Art and Craft Village’ near Pak-China Friendship Centre, Shakarparian for exhibiting indigenous culture of all provinces have to eat the dust at ongoing ‘Cultural Festival’ at the village on Thursday when the Capital Development Authority (CDA) Directorate of Sports and Culture closed it without prior intimation to the organisers of the festival.

The festival was opened on February 15 with the collaboration of CDA and Indus Heritage Trust (IHT) and to be continued till March 31 in which the artists from far-flung areas were participating to showcase indigenous cultural collection of their respective provinces but the sudden decision by the civic body halted the festival.

During a visit to Art and Craft Village, this scribe found that over 30 poor artists were suffering the most, especially who came from Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Multan, Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan. “The artists of Balochistan has come to participate here since last two weeks, who are residing inside the village at the rate of Rs 50 per day while they are provided food for free from the organisers,” informed Asma Ravji, one of the organiser of the festival. She said they invited artists from all the provinces at the village which was meant to facilitate artist community to showcase, promote and market cultural heritage of the country but today the abrupt closure of festival, has increased the agonies of over 50 artists depriving them of a platform to display their talent, Ravji maintained. When asked why the civic body took this sudden step, Ravji said CDA was reluctant with the smooth working of the village that is being run with IHT- the partner of CDA in this project. “It was also learnt that a citizen Jamil Abbasi filed the petition with civil courts for stay order saying that CDA could not allow to give control to IHT for organising cultural activities inside the village- that is covering the total area of 15-acre with the estimated cost of Rs 20 million,” she said.

Talking to Daily Times, Gul Bahar Baloch, from Balochistan, said that he came with 10 members group of dance party showcasing ‘Folk Dance of Balochistan’ but sudden stoppage had created problems. “We don’t know what to do and where to stay. Our luggage is with us and CDA officials are forcing us to leave this place,” Baloch said.

A number of female artists from Bahawalpur and Multan suffered with the same fate as they were also forced to vacate the stalls in which they were exhibiting traditional garments, jewelry and pottery of Multan and Bahawalpur.

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