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March 3, 2021

Farmers ransack govt rest house in protest against RUDA


March 3, 2021

LAHORE: A large number of farmers ransacked a government rest-house while protesting against Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) here on Tuesday.

Revenue officers have called farmers at Babakwal Bangla on Kala Khatai Road to announce the award rates of to be acquired land. The meeting started around 12noon and as soon as the farmers heard the government’s proposed rates for their lands they became infuriated and started chanting slogans.

They exchanged hot words with the revenue officers and one of the officers slapped a farmer after which farmers became violent and a scuffle started between them and revenue officers. The revenue officers fled the scene and the infuriated farmers ransacked the rest-house and blocked Kala Khatai Road for several hours.

After strong reaction of the farmers, the officers of the land revenue department fled from the office and took shelter in mosques and quarters. A heavy contingent of police was called to control the situation.

Assistant Commissioner Tehsil Ferozwala, DSP Ferozwala and other officials reached the spot and tried to persuade the farmers but they refused to negotiate.

Farmers said they were called at Babakwal Bangla on Kala Khatai Road to fix the award rate after completing the process by the government to acquire land in different tehsils of Lahore and Sheikhupura districts for the Ravi River project.

They said according to proposed rates, the government offered Rs 200,000 per acre in the river bed area while Rs 235,000 was offered for the land situated outside river.

Farmers said even not a single marla of land was available in this area on this rate whereas the government was giving such low rate for an acre. They said even they can't purchase a buffalo with the offered amount. They alleged that the government was trying to accommodate land mafia on their land which was not acceptable.

They said that the government made a mockery of them by offering such a low price for their fertile lands, but they don't want to give their lands under any circumstances.

If there was a public welfare scheme, we would cooperate in every possible way, but there was no public welfare in housing societies by giving lands to private land developers, the protesters added.

Addressing the protest, Mian Mustafa Rashid, convener of the RUDA Action Committee, said, "Government is committing atrocities against people. Our lands are fertile and government officials are declaring it barren land and offering low rates for it."

He warned the government officials, "If they don't accept our legitimate demands, the scope of the protest would widen."

Former PML-N MPA Hassan Riaz also addressed the protesters and said, "Farmers are not destitute and would not tolerate any kind of abuse against them. We are with the farmers and victims".

After the strong reaction of the farmers, the revenue officials canceled rate awards and assured to re-award the rates after considering the objections. Later, the farmers ended their protest and dispersed peacefully. RUDA spokesperson Afzal Butt said RUDA Chairman Rashid Aziz said that no injustice will be done with the farmers and they will get reasonable price for their lands. He said the chairman said that some miscreants spoiled the meeting and the government will reconsider the genuine demands of the farmers.