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Firing by rival groups keeps highway shut

March 18, 2013

ISLAMABAD, March 17: Although the sale and purchase of land is the most lucrative business in the federal capital, sometimes money involved in this business becomes a problem for all stakeholders.

On Sunday, exchange of firing between two groups claiming ownership on a piece of land near Loi Bher kept the Islamabad Expressway blocked for around four hours. Six persons were allegedly kidnapped and three others were shifted to hospital with injuries. The inspector general of police (IGP) suspended the station house officer of Koral, Mehr Munawar, for his failure to control the situation.

According to the police, one of the groups was headed by Malik Ishrat, a brother of late Malik Bari, and the other led by Malik Mudassar.

A police officer requesting not to be named said there was 90 kanals of land near PWD Housing Society in Loi Bher Awan at Zone V. It was under the possession of Malik Mudassar but Malik Ishrat claimed ownership on the land. In 2012, he moved the court for registration of a case against Malik Mudassar but the case was never registered.

At about 7am on Sunday, three men from Malik Ishrat group reached the land and asked the watchmen to leave. However, the watchmen contacted Rescue 15 and later handed over all the three men to the Koral police which registered a case against them.

At around 4pm, around 20 men from Ishrat group reached the land. As Malik Mudassar had also called his men, both the groups started firing at each other.

As a result, the expressway was closed and traffic coming from Rawat was diverted to Rawalpindi while vehicles from Islamabad side were sent towards the airport.

According to hospital sources, two persons identified as Intizar Khan and Irfanullah from the Mudassar group and Fida Hussain from the Ishrat group were treated for injuries.

A resident of the area, Mian Khurram, said although there was a boundary wall around the land, both the groups used to exchange heated arguments over its ownership.Malik Mudassar while talking to Dawn said six people belonging to his group were missing. “Ishrat group has occupied 40 kanals of land in National Assembly Housing Society and the society is also trying to vacate the land from them,” he alleged.

Malik Ishrat could not be contacted for comments despite repeated attempts.

On the other hand, some influential personalities of the area were trying to make a patch-up between the groups.