LAHORE: In what seems to be a brazen act, an officer of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) allegedly dispossessed an elderly woman, who was on dialysis treatment, of her 1-kanal residence, sealed it and then declared it ‘his official residence’.

The house is located in Johar Town where currently LDA assistant director (legal) Mohammad Irfan is living along with his family while displaying a board at the main gate ‘official residence’.

Rukhsana Bibi (80) could hardly visit a few times to the LDA to meet the authorities due to her ill health.

She stopped visiting the office as she was to undergo dialysis thrice a week and the LDA staff used to make her sit for hours to approach the senior officials to get her house vacated from the [allegedly] illegal custody of the officer.

The woman has appealed to Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz to take notice of the ‘land mafia’ in the LDA office and demanded a high-level inquiry.

Her brother Mumtaz said it was a rare case that an LDA officer suddenly visited the private property on the pretext of inspection, got it vacated and sealed it without issuing a notice to the aggrieved family.

He said it utterly shocked the family when the LDA officer visited a few days later with some reportedly bogus documents he prepared with the connivance of his staff and claimed that the higher authorities have declared it an ‘official residence’.

Mr Mumtaz said Irfan told the elderly woman that the LDA director general allotted him her house as ‘official residence’ while showing her an allotment letter to the effect.

“This house was in the possession of my sister from 1990 to 2021”, he said.

He said the LDA had acquired a piece of land measuring 12 kanal 18 marla owned by his sister and located in Johar Town in 1990.

As compensation, the LDA later allotted her three plots (one kanal each) in L Block of Johar Town against her land it had acquired under a laid down policy. A letter (No JI-AP-1526-5530) was issued by the LDA at that time.

He said his sister hired a contractor and constructed house on one of the three plots after taking possession in 1990-91.

As she was overseas Pakistani in those days, she rented her house for some years, Mumtaz said adding that a few years back she came back due to her health and put the same house for her family use until 2021.

He said as she had been diagnosed as a kidney patient and was undergoing dialysis, the LDA officer hatched a plan to occupy her house illegally by declaring it an ‘official residence’ of the authority.

“He first got it vacated, sealed the property and a few days later unsealed it and shifted his own family”, Mr Mumtaz said.

Quoting a Supreme Court ruling, he said the LDA was legally bound to issue notice for hearing before dispossessing the occupant of a property. This practice was blatantly ignored, he claimed.

LDA Assistant Director Mohammad Irfan said the property was owned by the elderly woman and she was not satisfied because of its location.

She had later submitted an application and requested to the LDA to allot her one-kanal plot in any other suitable place.

Later, she was allotted the plot as per her application in the L-Block of Johar Town, he said adding the LDA later declared her previous property as the official residence and allotted it to him [where he is living these days with his family].

“Yet, if the elderly woman wants to approach the LDA, the authorities will be ready to address her grievance,” he said and claimed that neither the woman nor any one from her family contacted the LDA authorities so far.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2022

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