Railway authorities have reclaimed several kanals of illegally occupied land between Haripur Railway Station and Havelian collectively valued at Rs174 million.
Following an order issued by the apex court, the railway administration launched an anti-encroachment drive on February 16 to evacuate encroachers allegedly occupying 152,340 square feet of government land for the past 50 years.
“Whenever we served them notices or tried to remove them forcibly, they retaliated with stay orders,” stated Hazara Railway Permanent Way Inspector Imtiaz Ahmed.
On the Supreme Court’s directive, the railways’ Anti-Encroachment Force in collaboration with local and railway police resumed the operation on Wednesday after the expiry of the stay order from Peshawar High Court issued in favour of Afghan Basti occupants.
They were to vacate the land voluntarily by February 21. All 45 houses were removed including four cemented ones, without any resistance.
“Where is the PPP’s so-called slogan of ‘roti, kapra aur makan’? Was it buried with the Bhuttos?” asked Najibullah Khan, one of the affected.
He said they were the third generation of Afghans to have grown up in the area but the government had made them refugees once again.
Gul Khan, also evicted from his home, pointedly said no other alternative was provided and alleged that the authorities exercised discrimination, leaving concrete structures of influential figures untouched.
Meanwhile, according to Ahmed, railway authorities have cleared encroachments on commercial and residential areas in Haripur valued at Rs110 million, land worth Rs20 million in the jurisdiction of Baldhair Railway Station and Rs44 million within the limits of Havelian Railway Station.
To a question, he said that a new survey of encroachments will be undertaken next week and any remaining encroachments will be removed in the second phase of the operation, rejecting Gul’s allegation of discrimination.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2012.
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