LAHORE: In a day-long operation, the Punjab government on Sunday demolished several structures around houses of the PML-N leaders MNA Afzal Khokhar and former MPA Saiful Malook Khokhar and their relatives near Johar Town, retrieving 38 kanal land from the ‘illegal occupants’.
The PML-N sees the move as one of the extreme actions to punish those supporting the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
The structures razed during the operation included houses of Akmal Khokhar and Tahir Javaid (close relatives of Afzal Khokhar and Saiful Malook), a market, back walls and shanties temporarily made by the workers.
The team, headed by four assistant commissioners and police officers, arrested several people, including children, on charge of offering ‘resistance’.
Claims retrieving 38 kanal from ‘illegal occupants’; PML-N leaders term it victimisation for supporting PDM
“It was 5:30/6am. We all were sleeping. Suddenly, the government people barged into our premises and started asking us to immediately leave the area. But when our men asked the reason, they put many of them along with some children and girls into vehicles and took them to the police station,” a woman who was gathering articles of her shanty told Dawn after the operation that ended at around 4:40pm.
“They even put our goats into trucks. It was horrible,” she complained.
The operation started at 6am after a team accompanied by police officials reached the spot with heavy machinery. The police encircled the area and helped the team to complete the operation that continued for about 11 hours. A number of locals had gathered on the spot and witnessed the operation. However, none of the Khokhar brothers or their family members offered resistance to stop the operation.
“No one offered resistance despite the fact it was absolutely unlawful in presence of stay orders from the court. We did this to avert the possibility of any untoward event. They also razed our back gate and the passages,” an employee of the Khokhar brothers, who was at the site, told this reporter.
“They (the government) launched this action on Sunday so that no one could be able to approach the court. On Monday, the Khokhars plan to move the court,” he added.
According to city district administration, the team retrieved 38 kanal land from the illegal possession of the Khokhar brothers.
“The total worth of the land is about Rs1.25bn,” a spokesman for the administration said in a press release. He accused the Khokhar brothers of grabbing the land through forgery.
“Before launching operation, notices were also issued to Khokhar brothers,” he explained, adding that various structures and shops were demolished during the operation that was supervised by the SSP (operations) and additional district collector revenue (ADCR).
“The retrieved land has been handed over to the Punjab government,” he said.
Malik Saiful Malook Khokhar claimed that the Supreme Court had already given verdicts in their favour. “There are 13 stay orders on this land issued by the courts,” he said, criticising the officials for not allowing them to enter their houses.
Malik Afzal Khokhar lambasted the institutions for, what he termed, becoming a part of political victimisation. “We are being punished for standing by Nawaz Sharif,” he said.
Commenting on the operation, Special Assistant to Chief Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan took on the PML-N leaders for grabbing state land.
“During the PTI government, the Anti-Corruption Establishment has, so far, retrieved thousands of acres of state land worth Rs181bn,” she said while talking to the media.
She claimed the government had retrieved 460 acres worth Rs3.42bn from 50 PML-N leaders.
Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said in a tweet: “We have started operations by getting state land worth Rs185bn from the land grabbers in Punjab. We will make all the land grabbers accountable”.
On the other hand, the PML-N leadership condemned the PTI government for targeting the politicians representing the opposition in general and the PML-N in particular. The PML-N supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif telephoned Saiful Malook Khokhar and condemned the government for victimising him and his family.
“I know that you (Khokhar brothers) are being punished for standing by me. I salute such loyal companions like you,” he said during the talk.
“Zulm jab (had sey) bharta hay to mit jata ha.I am seeing that time is not far when the people would stand up to the cruelty of this government,” he said.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif also came hard on the government and tweeted: “There is a law that legalises the illegal palace of Bani Gala. And there is another law that is for the opponents whose houses are not safe”.
PML-N Secretary (Information) Maryam Aurangzeb also strongly condemned action stating, “Imran Khan saves his illegal palace at Bani Gala, abusing his position as the selected prime minister and demolishes houses and properties of political opponents,” she said and added that the Khokhars were being punished for their loyalty to PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and party President Shehbaz Sharif.
Former minister for railways Khawaja Saad Rafique announced to hold massive protest against the government in the parliament session scheduled to be held today (Monday).
“The government is wrongly using the bureaucracy and police for taking political revenge from the PML-N. We will not at all let it complete the tenure,” he warned.
Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2021