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Fleeting moments

October 11, 2018

Land grabbers


October 11, 2018

Some business ventures need a special environment to prosper. Land-grabbing is one such undertaking for which our country’s land seems fertile.

This venture has now acquired the status of a fully-fledged profession. Those who take up this profession are untouchables. In some cases, even their names or aliases are scary. For instance, a land-grabber who has recently made headlines has a ‘bomb’ attached to his name.

Understandably, ‘Mansha Bomb’ indulged in land-grabbing for many years without let or hindrance until the long arms of the law caught up with him. Mansha Bomb would have merrily carried on with his business had a Pakistani expatriate not lodged a petition in the court for allegedly grabbing his property.

Overseas Pakistanis are an attractive prey for land-grabbers. Women owners, especially widows, are another target for land-grabbers who can deprive them of their land or urban property.

As I wrote these lines, Geo TV showed the steel paw of an excavator tearing down a commercial building that allegedly belonged to Mansha Bomb in Jauhar Town. Mansha Bomb had not only occupied the property illegally, but had also built a commercial structure on it. The building would obviously have taken months to complete, which was not possible without the connivance of any of the civic bodies entrusted with the responsibility of regularising construction. However, the chief justice ordered the police to arrest Mansha Bomb immediately, recover the land he had allegedly grabbed, and place his four sons on the Exit Control List.

How men like Mansha Bomb manage to evade the police for years is no secret. The police always know land-grabbers in its area of jurisdiction and the powerful hands that protect them. In Mansha Bomb’s case, the apex court ordered two PTI lawmakers to appear before it for shielding the land grabber. One of the lawmakers broke down in court and the other quickly produced a letter of apology to show his penitence for protecting Mansha Bomb. The court spared both lawmakers but showed no mercy to Mansha Bomb.

As reported, why did the Board of Revenue remain silent when land grabbers occupied 31,687 kanals of its land? Why didn’t the LDA stir when it lost 636 kanals of land to land-grabbers? Or, how was the forest department deprived of 280 acres of land? It shows that either the bureaucracy is too naive or the land mafia too cunning. But the public holds the opinion that both sides connive with each other to amass mutual gains.

Law-abiding citizens who pay their taxes and utility bills honestly and even follow traffic rules strictly often wonder how heinous crimes – land-grabbing and the illegal occupation of properties belonging to the weak – flourish in the country in the presence of many layers of the bureaucracy, which is supposed to safeguard public interests. Something is terribly amiss. The nation needs to be frequently lectured on adopting a clean and moral way of life. One has yet to hear a political leader talk about morality and ethics.

One hopes that the next in line to be weeded out are those that hold fake degrees, whether they wear black coats and scurry in and out of courts or wear white coats in hospitals, acting like messiah for the public.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.

Email: [email protected]

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