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CDA demolishes structures at former Senate chairman’s home

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration demolished construction outside the home of former Senate chairman Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari as part of a joint anti-encroachment operation to retrieve land belonging to Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU).

The operation was carried out on a rainy Saturday in Kot Hathial, on land that, according to a Survey of Pakistan and CDA report, belongs to the university. However, locals have said the land is un-acquired and belongs to them, and that they have legal documentation in their support.

CDA enforcement teams, backed by ICT officials, police and Rangers, began the operation from Mr Bukhari’s home, demolishing servant quarters and guard rooms outside his expansive residence. The total area, from the boundary line to Mr Bukhari’s house, is said to be 24 kanals.

PPP workers and supporters protested at the site and claimed the government was victimising the party leader. Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat and other ICT and CDA officials held talks with Mr Bukhari.

Sources said Mr Bukhari told government officials he is the legitimate owner and possesses all the required documents.

Anti-encroachment operation carried out to retrieve QAU’s land, nine homes,15 structures razed

He said that of the 64 kanals in the area, he owns 24 while the 36 kanals belonging to others is un-acquired and in the possession of private individuals. He told the officials that the CDA and QAU had no right to claim the land.

After demolishing construction at Mr Bukhari’s residence, CDA teams turned to under-construction homes in the area, demolishing nine homes and 15 structures that included walls and cattle rooms.

The deputy commissioner told Dawn that demarcation will be carried out again for the satisfaction of local landowners.

However, the operation will continue on undisputed land until Jan 9, he said.

“Today, a total of 80 kanals of built-up area was recovered by demolishing houses and structures and walls,” he added, saying that 100 kanals of open land was also retrieved and handed over to the QAU in the presence of CDA staff.

A statement from the CDA also said that 100 kanals of open land was retrieved on the first day of the operation and handed over to the university’s administration.

A few days ago, QAU issued a statement saying that the university had carried out new on-the-ground demarcation of its land through the Survey of Pakistan in April and May 2017, and coordinates have been fixed on the boundary line.

“As per Survey of Pakistan report, all the land on the west side of the main stream coming from Shahdara Valley and flowing between Wapda grid station and Bhara Kahu belongs to Quaid-i-Azam University,” the statement said, referring to land on which Mr Bukhari and others have built their homes. The area where construction has taken place is surrounded by land in the university’s possession.

According to QAU, an area spread across 1,709 acres, 4 kanals and 12 marlas was acquired by the CDA between 1967 and 1972 for the University of Islamabad – now known as QAU.

Vacant possession and on-the-ground demarcation of the land was not given to the university by the CDA, due to which the university has inherited a number of illegal occupants including nine villages spread across around 298 acres inside the university’s campus, as well as illegal encroachment from outside.

In an official statement a few years ago, QAU also accused the former Senate chairman of encroachment on its land.

Meanwhile the local administration’s actions were criticised by former president Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who said their party’s general secretary was being politically victimised.

In a statement, Mr Zardari said the “attack in the garb of operation is nothing but political victimisation”. He said Mr Bukhari was in possession of all the required legal documents but was threatened in the name of the operation. He alleged that the “selected prime minister will totally fail to blackmail Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari” through such tactics.

PPP Senator Rehman Malik, chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, took ‘suo motu notice’ on applications filed by residents of Kot Hathial, Khasra no. 1449/145 and 1449/142 against the CDA’s decision to illegally demolish their homes.

According to a committee notice dated Jan 4: “The chairman committee has directed that CDA and other local authorities may be restrained to take any such illegal and unlawful action against the lawful owners of the [residences] of Khasra Nos.1449/145 and 1449/142 in Revenue Estate, Kot Hathial, Islamabad. The matter will be considered by the Senate Standing Committee on Interior after public hearing of the above complainants, briefing by the CDA and all other concerned local authorities.”

The notice issued to the CDA and ICT also said the committee will take up the matter on Jan 7.

Mr Bukhari told Dawn that the portion of land in question was never acquired by the CDA and not allotted to the university.

“This piece of land measuring approximately 60 kanals in Khasra no. 1,449/145 and 1,447/142, revenue estate Kot Hathial, Islamabad, was never acquired by the CDA and is still in the names of more than 30 people,” he said, adding that twice in 2006 and then in 2016, demarcation of this land was carried out which supported our claim. Last year, QAU challenged the demarcation and the ICT administration decided to carry out a fresh demarcation.

“But today without any fresh demarcation, an illegal operation was carried out,” Mr Bukhari said.

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