LAHORE: The Ravi Urban Development Authority (Ruda) has got two cases registered against several farmers for allegedly threatening officials, ploughing its land ‘forcibly’ and intervening in state affairs in the area of Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project.

The first information reports were lodged after the farmers offered resistance over possession of the land claimed to be acquired by Ruda under the land acquisition act. On the other hand, the farmers termed the Ruda’s claim of land acquisition baseless, saying they neither gave possession of their land to the authority nor received any compensation from the government.

According to FIR No 2137/2022 registered by the Ferozewala police station (Sheikhupura) under section 447, 511, 427, 506-B, 148 and 149, the Ruda deputy director (security) stated that suspects namely Rana Mehram Ali, Chaudhry Sajjad Warraich, Chaudhry Faqir Muhammad, Bao Bhatti, Bagga Bhatti, Shabbir Bhatti, Ameer Bhatti, Muhammad Hussain Bhatti and Kamran along with several others tried to get possession of the authority’s land at Mauza Aya Naggar Kalan (Rakh Dhanoya) by ploughing with 10 tractors.

The suspects also threatened and misbehaved with the authority’s security guards after the latter stopped their tractors. However, according to the complainant, the suspects managed their escape by taking away their tractors and hurling threats at the Ruda officials.

Two cases filed against several farmers; ‘row’ over payment of compensation persists

In another FIR (2138/2022) registered under sections 506-B, 427, 148 and 149 by Ferozewala police, the complainant said the farmers including Bao Bhatti, Shabbir Ahmad Bhatti, Shafiq Ahmad Bhatti, Ameer Ali Bhatti, Cheelu Bhatti, Iqbal Arain, Latif Arain and Nazir Arain entered the authority’s land awarded by the government (after land acquisition process) and started ploughing the fields unlawfully. They also threatened the Ruda guards.

Mian Mustafa Rasheed, the chief of the joint action committee of the Ravi project affectees, termed the award of land and its transfer in the name of the state illegal keeping in view the court verdicts.

“The award of our land and its transfer to the government is totally fake, as it was done when the Lahore High Court had already granted stay order, scrapped the project and the final decision of the Supreme Court that allowed Ruda to only launch environment improvement-related activities at the land acquired already and the owners have received payment/compensation,” he said.

Rasheed said since the owners of the land (around 1,400 acres) of the total 2,000 acres in project (phase-1) have not received the compensation, how can the government claim its ownership through award and mutation allegedly done unlawfully. He said the farmers would neither surrender their land nor allow Ruda to launch developmental activities there. “We will fight for our rights,” he warned.

When contacted, a spokesman for Ruda dispelled the impression, stating that the entire land acquisition process (award, transfer) was done in accordance with law. “Many farmers have already received the compensation after we deposited it with the government treasury. However there are some who have not received the compensation despite the fact we have deposited it. They are [simply] creating troubles,” he explained.

He asked the farmers to prove their claim of fake award and transfer/mutation of land at any legal forum. “If someone has not received the compensation/cheques from the treasury, it doesn’t mean that the land acquisition process is incomplete. The deposit of money with the treasury proves that the government has acquired the land lawfully and it is the actual and legal owner now,” the spokesman maintained.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2022

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