The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) on Sunday completed a grand operation at Khokhar Palace in Johar Town, which belonged to the famous Khokhar brothers, to retrieve 38 kanals of state land, demolishing three houses and several shops.
Khokhar brothers who are associated with PML-N, however, claimed that the government’s action was politically motivated as Lahore High Court (LHC) had issued a restraining order on the issue. But the district administration armed with heavy machinery and a large number of policemen reached Khokhar Palace, the residence of PML-N MPA Afzal Khokhar and Saiful Malook Khokhar, on Sunday morning.
They cordoned off all the roads leading to the place by placing containers to block the passageways. Police cordoned off the routes from Ayub Chowk to Khokhar Palace as the anti-encroachment operation, that was what the LDA dubbed it, got into motion. The district administration claimed that they retrieved 38 kanals of land worth 1.25 billion rupees and the operation was carried out after several notices were served and after the decision of Collector Ishtimal. The operation was carried out in the supervision of ADCR Abdul Rauf Mehr Lahore and SSP Operations Ashfaq Ahmad Khan. The retrieved land has now been handed over to the Punjab government. 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 Saiful Malook’s nephew. They also brought down the rear portion of Muhammad Akmal Khokhar’s house. The operation was carried out to retrieve 38 kanals from the Khokhar brothers belonging to the PML-N. LDA Vice-Chairman SM Imran said LDA operation was non-political and if someone had the papers of the properties he would have presented them to authorities. Officials claimed that out of 177 kanals only 131 kanals were owned by Saiful 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 motived as Lahore High Court (LHC) had issued restraining order on the issue. Reportedly, lawyers of the Khokhar brothers also showed the court orders to the authorities but they continued the operation. Earlier in December last year, Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has postponed operation against the illegal wall of Khokhar Palace after facing resistance.
The protesters climbed on top of the machinery and the officials were stopped from taking action. The workers and protesters chanted slogans and the operation had to be postponed.