LAHORE: The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has conducted a grand operation here at Khokhar Palace in Johar Town on Sunday, to retrieve 38 kanals of state land, demolishing three houses and several shops belonging to Khokhar brothers amid stringent security measures adopted by the police.
The district administration with heavy machinery and a large number of policemen reached Khokhar Palace, the residence of PML-N MNA Afzal Khokhar and MPA Saif-ul-Malook Khokhar on Sunday morning.
They cordoned off all the roads leading to the place by placing containers to block the passageways. Police also cordoned off the routes from Ayub Chowk to Khokhar Palace ahead of the operation.
Afzal Khokhar and Saif-ul-Malook Khokhar alleged that the government’s action was politically motivated as Lahore High Court (LHC) had issued a restraining order on the issue.
On the other hand, the district administration claimed that they retrieved 38 kanals of land worth Rs 1.25 billion and the operation was carried out after several notices were served and after the decision of Collector ‘Ishtimal.’ The operation was carried out under the supervision of ADCR Abdul Rauf Mehr Lahore and SSP Operations Ashfaque Ahmad Khan. The retrieved land has now been handed over to the Punjab government.
In the operation, as many as 13 shops and several temporary huts have been demolished with the use of heavy machinery.
The LDA machinery bulldozed the back gate and wall of the Khokhar Palace and also demolished the adjacent Saif Market, which was according to authorities was illegal and built on state land. The authorities also demolished the rear portion of a house belonging to Saif-ul-Malook’s nephew.
They also brought down the rear portion of Muhammad Akmal Khokhar’s house.
LDA vice chairman SM Imran said the operation was non-political and if someone had the papers of the properties he would have presented them to authorities.
Officials claimed that only 131 kanals were owned by Saif-ul-Malook Khokhar and the remaining land was illegally occupied.
On the other hand, PML-N MPA Saif-ul-Malook said that the government’s action was politically motivated. He said, “Every piece of land is legal and we have complete documents but we are facing highhandedness.”
Afzal Khokhar alleged that whole operation was carried out at the behest of Imran Khan. He said they are loyal with Nawaz Sharif and would remain committed to him.
Lawyers of the Khokhar brothers also showed the court orders to the authorities but they continued the operation. Earlier in December 2020, LDA had postponed operation against the illegal wall of Khokhar Palace after facing resistance.
PML-N leaders Khawaja Saad Rafique, Khawaja Imraz Nazir and others reached the Khokhar palace and slammed the operation.
Khawaja Saad told media that they would raise this issue forcefully in the national assembly session. On the one side, the government is seeking cooperation for conduct of assembly business by sending their ministers while on the other hand, they are demolishing residences of our legislators; he said.
PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz Sharif said that Khokhar brothers are an important asset of the PML-N.
Comparing the Bani Gala and Khokhar Palace, Maryam said, “One law is for the powerful that legalizes the illegal palace of Bani Gala and the other law is for the opponents whose houses are not safe from the evil.”
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021