Might is right, and the latest order of might in the country comes in the form of the land mafia which is involved in snatching the lands of innocent people from right under the nose of government authorities. As nothing has been done so far to tackle the fast growing influence of the mafia, these land-eaters have gone berserk and are now preying on the unguarded properties of overseas Pakistanis.
Though there were numerous such cases pending in the backlogs of the law enforcement agencies, but the most recent ordeal in this regard would be enough to feel the agony of an expatriate Pakistani who had brought back his hard-earned money to the country and invested it in a piece of land.
The ordeal started in the first week of December when Ghulam Hussain Awan, an overseas Pakistani journalist, reached his land and found that the boundary wall around his land had disappeared. It was a rude awakening for the foreign returned journalist. Sensing a problem, he visited the land on December 9 to build a room for a watchman to maintain surveillance of the area to protect his land located at Jodho Dheer, Moza Raiwind, seven kilometres away from the residence of former two-time prime minister of Pakistan and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Chief Nawaz Sharif. It was a really shameful situation when a team of hooligans backed by the land mafia forcibly stopped the construction work of a guard room on the land. They subjected the owner and other people to torture and hurled life threats towards them. According to Hussain’s narrative, a few years ago he had purchased the land from two women namely Batool Bibi and Salim Bibi. He said that on the day of the incident, Majeed, Sher Ali, Javed and Aziz, brothers of the above mentioned women, visited his land along with 20 men. They thrashed the security guard, demolished the boundary walls and later fled the area with guns blazing.
Meanwhile, members of the influential land mafia also claimed that nobody, not even the Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif could rescue Hussain as they were ruling the area without any fear. As the situation grew worst, police officers reached the spot and instead of helping Hussain, they openly sided with the gang of thugs. On the pretext of avoiding a brawl, they ordered Hussain that it was better to discontinue the construction work.
Showing more ruthlessness, they threatened to lodge an FIR against him. Police was informed by Hussain that the legal documents featuring ownerships rights of the land, transfer of land, copy of mutation, sale deed and local commission report for the rightful possession of property of 5 kanals and 12 marlas of land at Jodho Dheer were in his possession. The anguish-stricken journalist further informed the police that the criminals did not possess a single documentary proof to dispossess him of his land. However, his voice remained unheard as the local police and the land mafia had already connived with each other regarding this issue. Hussain also claimed that he had purchased the mentioned land at a cost of Rs 2.1 million and the land mafia was pressurising him to sell them his land on the original price, while property rates have increased manifold during the past few years. In addition, he said that Sub-Inspector Bashir of the police station concerned and former nazim of Jodha Dheer Habib Khan were siding with the mafia by frequently demanding him to surrender his land. On the other hand, Habib rebutted Hussain’s version by saying that he was not a greedy person. He said that he himself was neither interested in the mentioned land, nor was he demanding the original owner to sell it to someone else.
Later, the issue was also raised in CM overseas complaint cell by Hussain who sought a solution to his problem at the earliest. Yet again, all his efforts were in vain as no action was taken by the authorities concerned. Ultimately, he knocked on the door of a court that issued a restraining order in his favour under section 151 CPC on December 12. Meanwhile, an application was submitted to SP (Operations) Saddar on December 14 for help. Copy available with this scribe revealed that the applicant submitted a written request to provide protection to life and wealth of the applicant against the powerful mafia. The victim said that if a United Kingdom (UK) based senior journalist, who was also joint secretary of Pakistan Journalists Association in the UK, could suffer the fear of being deprived of his own land while the government and police left him high and dry, how could other overseas Pakistanis dare to invest money in Punjab where the rights of people were not protected. “The economy desperately needs a handsome flow of money and if such discouraging situation stands unimproved, overseas Pakistanis would bring to a halt the investment that is already decreasing with time,” he concluded.
He made an earnest appeal to the Punjab CM to intervene in the matter to enable him to get justice and to restore the shaking confidence of overseas Pakistanis.