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Friday, April 12, 2024

Government’s action against Khokhar brothers; 38 kanals land retrieved

The Punjab government on Sunday demolished several structures around houses of the PML-N leaders MNA Afzal Khokhar and former MPA Saiful Malook Khokhar and their relatives near Johar Town, retrieving 38 kanal land from the ‘illegal occupants’.

In the latest development, the Punjab government on Sunday demolished several structures around houses of the PML-N leaders MNA Afzal Khokhar and former MPA Saiful Malook Khokhar and their relatives near Johar Town, retrieving 38 kanal land from the ‘illegal occupants’. The move has been appreciated by many in media and civil society. Khokhar brothers have long been accused of land grabbing in Punjab.

However, the PML-N sees the move as one of the extreme actions to punish those supporting the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). The PML-N supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif telephoned Saiful Malook Khokhar and condemned the government for victimising him and his family. “I know that you (Khokhar brothers) are being punished for standing by me. I salute such loyal companions like you,” he said during the talk.

“Zulm jab (had sey) bharta hay to mit jata ha.I am seeing that time is not far when the people would stand up to the cruelty of this government,” he said.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif also came hard on the government and tweeted: “There is a law that legalises the illegal palace of Bani Gala. And there is another law that is for the opponents whose houses are not safe”.

On the other hand, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said in a tweet: “We have started operations by getting state land worth Rs185bn from the land grabbers in Punjab. We will make all the land grabbers accountable”.

Commenting on the operation, Special Assistant to Chief Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan took on the PML-N leaders for grabbing state land.

“During the PTI government, the Anti-Corruption Establishment has, so far, retrieved thousands of acres of state land worth Rs181bn,” she said while talking to the media. She claimed the government had retrieved 460 acres worth Rs3.42bn from 50 PML-N leaders.

The structures razed during the operation included houses of Akmal Khokhar and Tahir Javaid (close relatives of Afzal Khokhar and Saiful Malook), a market, back walls and shanties temporarily made by the workers.

The team, headed by four assistant commissioners and police officers, arrested several people, including children, on charge of offering ‘resistance’.

The operation started at 6am after a team accompanied by police officials reached the spot with heavy machinery. The police encircled the area and helped the team to complete the operation that continued for about 11 hours. A number of locals had gathered on the spot and witnessed the operation. However, none of the Khokhar brothers or their family members offered resistance to stop the operation.

“The total worth of the land is about Rs1.25bn,” a spokesman for the administration said in a press release. He accused the Khokhar brothers of grabbing the land through forgery.

Read more: Punjab government launches massive assault against illegal construction

“Before launching operation, notices were also issued to Khokhar brothers,” he explained, adding that various structures and shops were demolished during the operation that was supervised by the SSP (operations) and additional district collector revenue (ADCR).

Infamous Khokhar brothers: Politicians or land grabbers?

It is important to note that Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) summoned infamous alleged land grabbers, Khokhar brothers, on December 07, 2020 over their alleged involvement in money laundering and other criminal activities.

The FIA Lahore has issued a summon against Khokhar brothers-Saif ul Malook Khokhar, Muhammad Shafi Khokhar, and Afzal Khokhar- seeking a probe into money laundering, land grabbing, and assets beyond means allegations against them.

The notice sought an explanation from the brothers over transactions of large sums from their bank accounts. “Bring the documentary evidence along with you to prove the allegations as wrong,” the FIA said while warning them action could be taken against them over non-compliance.

It is pertinent to mention here that police had arrested the former Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Afzal Khokhar from the Supreme Court registry in Lahore in December 2018 for allegedly illegally occupying a piece of land in the provincial capital.

Read More: Lahore High Court stops anti-corruption to take action against infamous Khokhar Brothers

Afzal was released on post-arrest bail by a judicial magistrate the next day. The Excise and Taxation Department’s director-general on January 3 had provided the asset details of Khokhar brothers to the Anti-Corruption Establishment.

Khokhar brothers have a total of seven properties in the province. The ‘Khokhar Palace’, said the officials, belongs to Afzal Khokhar and Shafi Khokhar.