Land mafia and the journalists -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Land mafia and the journalists

By Raja Riaz

Look at the issues confronting the nation! These have eroded our peace and tranquility – unchecked weaponisation, drugs, corruption of national institutions and public service individuals, abuse of power by those who matter at minimal or maximum level and the land grabbing mafia. Unfortunately these all evils are patronised by political forces.

Land grabbing is perhaps the most attractive means of collecting money and becoming rich quick. The phenomenon of land mafia is not a new one, as since the inception of Pakistan as an independent country state dividing the united India in 1947, this syndrome flourished in our society. The white collared mafia promoted this curse and illegal land grabbing started from the false claims by not only the immigrants but also the families living on this part of the subcontinent, who used their influence to occupy the properties left by the Hundus and Sikhs. A worth mentioning fact is that among the families who migrated from India only a few were rich and land holders and most of them were economically deprived. The massive pilferage of Evacuee Property by falsified claims gave rise to a new breed of neo rich families and with that came political power and the need to seek dominance. Unfortunately this class, breed and thinking is still prevailing in our society after 63 years of creation of the country. These groups and individuals do not feel any wrong in occupying state and private lands and the poor, widows and other lesser powerful members of our society become victims. The boom in property prices attracted politicians to this ‘business’ and several were among the benefactors of this land mafia that it is no longer considered a crime for them.

The land grabbers are not confined to any cities, rather every big city of the country is polluted with the prevalence of land mafias than the media. A judicial enquiry report submitted in the Supreme Court reads that in Islamabad, the land grabbers have occupied over 29,650 kanals of land, including both private and state land. In Lahore, they vacated illegal occupation of 1,100 kanals of state land allocated to the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences. The institution was allotted 2,200 kanals originally but the above mentioned figure was under illegal occupation. The report shows horrible facts stating that that the land grabbing mafia is so powerful that many employees of the state become their servants and with their help the mafia had taken over the common lands known as ‘shamlat’. The mafia is supposed to have taken over 13,296 kanals of shamlat land, besides 10,786 kanals of land owned by individuals, while acquiring 5,568 kanals of state land transferred to private individuals through manipulated awards.

The Punjab government has underlined the need of vacating its state lands from the grabbers and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has set up special cells in all districts to vacate the lands from the mafia. Millions of rupees have been spent on publicity of this drive.

Under the very nose of the Punjab administration, the land mafia is busy in grabbing the land allocated for the journalists of the Lahore Press Club (LPC) Housing Colony in Lahore. The land grabbers have support from the political figures too. Journalist bodies especially the LPC knocked the doors of the concerned to control the menace but the powerful mafia with the help of local police, continued their obnoxious activity. The journalist community boycotted the Punjab assembly proceedings on Wednesday and refused to over the proceedings. The episode took place at a time when the Punjab chief minister was present in the chamber.

The boycott of the journalist community dominated the activities and was noticed by all concerned. The point to ponder is that the government showed a good gesture by passing directions to all concerned but would it get the desired results?
Source: Daily Times
Date:6/23/2011