‘Bad’ investment: The curious case of an encroached piece of land

Published: January 14, 2016
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Aligarh Cooperative Housing Society remains occupied after 45 years.

Aligarh Cooperative Housing Society remains occupied after 45 years.

KARACHI: Land being the most coveted commodity in Karachi leads many residents to invest their life savings in it. But investing in housing societies is a hit and miss, especially since politically backed groups are prone to occupying land illegally.

One such case is of 70-year-old Musheer Ahmed, who was an alumni of Aligarh Muslim University. Ahmed had invested a major chunk of his savings into a 600-yard plot in Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys’ Cooperative Housing Society Ltd about 45 years ago, which was later encroached upon. To date, he has been unable to get possession of his plot.

“I wanted to spend the later part of my life there peacefully at a house of my own,” he said. Fate had other plans as Ahmed continues to live in a small house near Federal B Area.

Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys’ Cooperative Housing Society was registered in 1968 and the land, according to the society’s honorary secretary Naseem, was acquired by the graduates of Aligarh University and for their families.

Later, he said that the plots were sold out to anyone willing to purchase them. The plots were sold at Rs10 per square yard at the time, he said.

The society is spread over 233 acres, which includes six blocks: 5A, 5B, 7A, 7B, 9A1 and 9A2. It has 1,530 members.

By 2005, the society started getting encroached and the fate of the hard-earned money of thousands of individuals became obscure. However, due to a court order in the year, 2010, two blocks, 9A1 and 9A2, were vacated from encroachers by the law enforcement agencies but the remaining four blocks are still heavily encroached upon.

According to the December 23, 2014, court judgment, a last chance of five weeks was once again given to the head of the encroachment cell of the Sindh government and various law enforcement agencies that included Pakistan Rangers Sindh – who had all failed to carry out the court order of February 13, 2014 – to vacate the society from encroachments.

District East deputy commissioner Asif Jan Siddiqui, who is also part of the case, said that he has directed the assistant commissioner of Gulzar-e-Hijri, Ishaq Dad, to clear the encroachment. However, Dad was of the opinion that it was not an easy task. He said that there were big settlements in the area, which have occupied the place. He added that in the past, four policemen have been killed during an operation on the same piece of land.

On a question regarding the contempt of court, he said that the court has not ordered them but the law enforcement agencies to clear the area. “Our job is coordination only,” he said.

Meanwhile, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation anti-encroachment cell director Mazhar Khan said that few days back they did go for the operation but the Rangers did not accompany them. Insisting the operation’s success impossible without the Rangers, he said that they would clear the area of encroachment whenever they get the security of the Rangers.

The Rangers could not be contacted for their version despite repeated attempts.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2016.

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