Qabza mafia

Published September 19, 2020

ONE has come across countless news reports of ‘china-cutting’, Qabza groups and illegal occupation of land over the years but rarely has the root cause of such crimes been highlighted. These crimes happen because of weak laws. In Pakistan, the law states that anyone occupying a plot of land surrounded by at least a wall cannot be evicted. This lacuna in the law provides the opportunity for people to occupy land illegally or by force.

I have witnessed first-hand how the Qabza groups operate. Some years ago my aunt’s house was attacked and we arrived with the police in the middle of the operation.

The Qabza group first enters the house with weapons and pushes every occupant into a room, where they are held hostage. Then all the items in the rest of the property are taken away to ensure no proof of leagal occupants remains.

The Qabza group brings in its own furniture and fixtures into the captured property. Then arrive the new ‘occupants’ mostly accompanied by women and children, who occupy the property and claim they have been living there for ages.

The local police are bribed. Once the Qabza group has settled in, they release the held occupants. When the police — finally — arrive they find two families living in the house and the case lands in court, where it lags on for years. During this time the Qabza group threatens and sometimes kills the legal occupants, and takes over the property completely. There is a need for laws that check such criminal acts.

Until new regulations specifically targeting the Qabza mafia are enacted, we will continue to hear news of people’s homes being occupied by criminals.

Shahryar Khan Baseer

Peshawar

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2020

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