KARACHI: The Rangers’ visit to the Sindh Building Control Authority on Monday remains shrouded in mystery as the official reason being put forward for the visit does not match the way the personnel were dressed and had entered the civic agency offices, and then remained there for a considerably long time.
While the acting SBCA chief maintains that the Monday visit of the Rangers to his office was to generally discuss the illegal construction, the way the fully armed personnel wearing balaclavas entered the SBCA does not conform to the reason put forward by the SBCA.
Responding to Dawn queries, acting director general of the SBCA Mumtaz Haider said that two Rangers officials –– he was not sure about the names –– had come to get information about some under-construction buildings and the required information was given to them.
They also sought some information regarding China-cutting plots –– plots carved out of amenity plots –– but they were informed that it was not in the purview of the SBCA as it was not a land-owning agency.
Answering another query that the issues mentioned could hardly take 10 to 15 minutes, and how he accounted for the two-and-a-half hours stay of the Rangers officials in his office, he said during the rest of the time tea was served and the weather was discussed.
Responding to another query, he confirmed that the officials had said that they would come again on Tuesday but they did not come, probably they were satisfied with the information given to them on Monday, added Mr Haider.
In reply to a question regarding the whereabouts of SBCA DG Manzoor Qadir and if he had been informed of the Rangers’ visit, he said Mr Qadir had been suffering from hypertension and had a high sugar level for the past few weeks and was on a month-long sick leave, so he had not been informed about it.
Sources said the two Rangers officers — one of them Maj Saqib and the other officer who had no name tag on his uniform — had sought information about the ongoing construction on a 1,500-square-yard plot in Nazimabad, where a five- or six-storey building was being constructed. After going through the file they asked for photocopies of certain documents, which were provided to them.
Then they asked for another Nazimabad plot and approval for the under-construction building on it and the file was put before them, but they did not even open it. They also sought information regarding China-cutting plots in Lines Area.
The sources said the way around 50 Rangers soldiers wearing balaclavas arrived and took positions at different parts of the SBCA building did not match their officially stated purpose, which could have been done by just sending in two to three people there.
The sources said that there were rumours that a few SBCA officers were to be “asked” by Rangers officials to “join the investigations” relating to illegal construction and Monday’s visit could be an exercise to see how the task could be achieved, or may be the required officers were not in the office at that time.
The sources raised another issue and said that the SBCA had its police with around 50 constables and officials and if these policemen watching the masked/ uniformed personnel entering the office and taking positions had mistaken them for intruders and fired at them, the scene could have turned ugly.
Meanwhile, Mr Haider also chaired a meeting of the SBCA officers on Tuesday and told them not to be demoralised owing to the Rangers visit and also remain vigilant in their respective areas and keep a check on illegal construction.
Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2015