LAHORE: In a major day-long operation launched on Thursday morning, joint teams of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and police retrieved 75 kanals of commercial land worth billions on the PIA Road near Hakim Chowk connecting D-Block, Johar Town, from the possession of notorious land grabber Mansha Bamm.
The operation was carried out after some affectees of Samanzar Housing Scheme and other adjoining localities approached Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi during his visit to the LDA’s one-window cell on Wednesday.
They told him about illegal occupation of their plots by Mansha Bamm (Malik Mansha Khokhar) and his people and sought his help to retrieve their properties.
On hearing their stories, the CM summoned the Lahore capital city police officer (CCPO) and other senior officials on the spot and ordered them to accompany the LDA teams to launch a joint operation to retrieve the illegally occupied land from the land grabbers as soon as possible. He had also ordered police to arrest Bamm who was captured on Wednesday evening.
At about 3am on Thursday, police reached the LDA Complex where they were joined by the LDA teams headed by the directors Ali Nusrat and Moazzam Rashid. The joint teams reached the properties occupied by Bamm and started operation with heavy machinery at about 4:30am.
LDA, police teams launch grand operation on PIA Road; Bamm already in custody
They demolished illegally built structures, temporary encroachments, extended shades, ground floors etc at several plots along the Main PIA Housing Society Road abutting Samanzar Housing Scheme.
The teams reportedly took various people into custody for offering resistance.
“We reached the site at about 2am and launched the operation that lasted till evening. During this major operation, we retrieved 75 kanal land, some of it owned by the state,” LDA Director (Town Planning) Ali Nusrat said while supervising the operation on site.
“We will not spare even a single inch of the land (of the affectees or the government) in possession of Mansha Bamm and his men,” he told Dawn.
According to the officials, Bamm used to grab the private and state land through various tactics, including constructing shops and houses and renting them out, building temporary shelters and other structures and installing his men there or renting the properties out. To get a legal cover, he used to get stay orders from courts on fake documents, showing him as the owner or legal occupant of the properties, actually owned by private people, some of them living abroad.
“In 2018, we retrieved around 82 kanals from Mansha Bamm and his men in a major operation that lasted for almost two days. We also registered cases against him and raided his house many times to arrest him but to no avail. Finally, he surrendered before the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” said the then SP Maaz Zafar who supervised the last operation in 2018.
Bamm nursed a grudge against the police officer and managed to get a fake and baseless case registered against him. Mr Zafar said Bamm used to do all this in connivance with the LDA officers/officials
“The retrieved land unfortunately was again illegally occupied by Mansha Bamm in connivance with LDA officials,” he lamented, adding that Bamm’s nephew was a lawyer who provided him with legal help.
LDA Chief Town Planner-1 Muhammad Azhar admitted that Bamm had managed to get back the possession of the plots retrieved by the LDA teams in 2018/19. According to him, Bamm had major stakes in various properties of the Samanzar scheme that turned commercial after construction of the PIA Road many years ago.
“The file of the Samanzar scheme had surprisingly disappeared from the record of LDA’s metropolitan wing, leaving no evidence behind about the plots and their ownership. There are many cases in which the plots were twice or thrice sold through fake power of attorney.”
Mr Azhar said the issue was also taken up by the then CJP around five years ago. But, later, the apex court sent the matter to the lower courts.
To a question, he said the 75 kanals retrieved on Thursday included seven kanals of the state land.
It may be recalled that in the earlier grand joint operation by the LDA, police and administration, 80 kanal land was retrieved from Mansha Bamm in Johar Town worth Rs5bn.
Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2023