LAHORE: Scores of people foiled the government’s bid to retrieve state land in Harbanspura on the second day of the month-long anti-encroachment operation on Wednesday after they blocked both sides of the main canal road, forcing officials and police to retreat.
The city administration’s team led by the Shalimar assistant commissioner was scheduled to start demolition at about 10am of illegal marriage halls and other structures on the main canal road and retrieve over 30 kanals. However, about 3,000 people gathered on the spot early morning and blocked the road by burning tyres. They also pelted motorists with stones and misbehaved with them.
“We postponed the operation for a day or two after we found the situation serious,” Deputy Commissioner (DC) retired Capt Anwarul Haq told Dawn.
“Since they (the grabbers) enjoy political support and are considered influential, before the start of the operation they managed to make announcements through mosques about demolition of the houses situated in the adjacent rural areas/villages. The government made a wrong decision by displaying banners in the area inscribed with information about the operation,” an official source told Dawn. “This enabled the land grabbers to use locals as shields.”
Faisalabad traders force team to abort operation, leave vehicles behind
The protesters claimed to possess all legal documents that proved their ownership of the properties. The administration officials agreed to verify the ownership and invited the complainants to the office of the assistant commissioner with the documents.
On the other hand, the DC rejected the impression that their strategy was wrong. “Those possessing state land unlawfully should be ready for the operation that will be carried out on Thursday or Friday,” Mr Haq warned.
He clarified that there was no plan to launch operation in villages where people had been living for decades.
Meanwhile, another team, headed by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general, retrieved more than 50 kanals worth billions along the motorway in the Sabzazar housing scheme. The team also retrieved seven plots of 12 marlas each in Sabzazar.
FAISALABAD: Traders strongly reacted against the anti-encroachment operation launched by the district administration and the municipal corporation in the Kharkhana Bazaar on Wednesday and forced the government team to leave.
Deputy Mayor Amin Butt also led a protest by the traders against the operation. The drive has been under way for three days in the Clock Tower bazaars and other areas however the traders claim the operation is depriving hundreds of them of their livelihood.
Sensing they traders’ fury, the government team aborted the operation and left their vehicles behind. The administration said they would hold dialogue with the traders.
Talking to reporters, the traders said they were not taken into confidence by the administration prior to launching the operation. Without consultation, they would not allow the administration to carry out the operation, they added.
GUJRANWALA: The district administration demolished 21 illegal shops, offices and makeshift stalls on GT Road and retrieved over five kanals from encroachments on Chan Da Qila. Commissioner Asadullah Faiz told reporters that this grand operation would continue and that the land which was cleared of encroachments belonged to the highways department and Parks and Horticulture Authority.
SHEIKHUPURA: The province-wide operation against encroachments started in Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib on Wednesday. In the first phase, a squad led by the assistant commissioner concerned accompanied by a police contingent demolished a number of illegal shops and structures built on GT Road from Imamia Colony to Kala Shah Kaku.
During the crackdown in Nankana Sahib City, illegal structures were removed from the main and Tang bazaars. Later, the shopkeepers held a demonstration against the administration and claimed that they had not been informed of the operation earlier.
The protesters said they would move the court on the matter on Thursday (today).
CHINIOT: The administration resumed the anti-encroachment operation here that was halted on Tuesday after the death of a shopkeeper during the drive on Sargodha Road. The family of the deceased placed his body in front of the DC’s office and demanded those responsible be booked.
The anti-encroachment cell of the district administration and municipal committee removed a number of concrete and temporary encroachments on Jhang Road. Belongings of a large number of shopkeepers were also confiscated.
On Tuesday, the team was removing concrete structures on Sargodha Road when a live wire fell on Sajid Ali, 18, who was working on a machine and received an electric shock. He was rushed to DHQ hospital but died there.
District Police Officer Abadit Nisar reached the spot and assured the protesters that all legal remedies would be provided to the aggrieved family.
Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2018