RAWALPINDI: Awami Muslim League (AML) President Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Wednesday claimed that Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) has issued him a notice to vacate Lal Haveli within 15 days.

However, the ETPB regional administrator Ch Tanveer Hussain disputed his claim, saying the notice was issued on land adjacent to Lal Haveli that is being used by the AML president.

Lal Haveli, an old building in downtown Bohar Bazaar, serves as the Sheikh Rashid’s political office. The building belonged to a Hindu woman prior to partition, and was converted into a political hub in 1980 after Sheikh Rashid entered parliamentary politics. The AML leader told Dawn the ETPB issued a notice asking for Lal Haveli to be vacated.

“The government is using unfair tactics ahead of the Islamabad lockdown and public meeting at Lal Haveli, where Imran Khan will begin the agitation against the PML-N government over the Panama leaks,” he said.

“It is my private property, and my funeral will be brought from this mansion. I purchased the land and will not surrender it,” he said.

But ETPB’s Mr Hussain told Dawn the notice was issued on land illegally occupied by the former federal minister next to his Lal Haveli. He said seven units adjacent to Lal Haveli have been leased to seven different tenants, but Sheikh Rashid is using them as part of Lal Haveli.

He said a 140 square feet room is being used as Lal Haveli’s kitchen, and an area measuring 9 metres and 84 square feet is being used to house the AML president’s security guards, even though the ETPB gave this property to a woman, Wilayat Jan.

Mr Hussain said the tenants do not have the authority to sublet leased property or change the original structure, and the ETPB took action on the violation.

He said the ETPB cancelled the lease, after which Sheikh Rashid contacted the ETPB to lease him the property, and the case was decided on Oct 18. He said the property was not part of Lal Haveli but is adjacent to it, and its possession is with the AML chief.

Mr Hussain said the ETPB previously issued a notice to the former minister to vacate the land two years ago, and on Oct 18 – after hearing Sheikh Rashid’s counsel on the matter – he issued directions to vacate the land adjacent to Lal Haveli.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2016

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