Illegal structures: Farmhouse owners attack CDA staff

ISLAMABAD, March 21: A team of officials from the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Thursday came under attack when they arrived at a farmhouse in Chak Shahzad to demolish some structures constructed on the premises against the building by-laws.

“As soon as we started the operation at the farmhouse No C-6 in the poultry and vegetable Scheme-II, we heard the sounds of gunshots. All our staff ran for cover,” an official of the building control department told Dawn.

However, no one was injured, he added. Later, the illegal structures were demolished under police protection.

According to the lease agreement with the owners, farmhouses in Islamabad were supposed to be utilised for farming and poultry. However, some of the owners have violated the agreement by constructing palatial houses and even marriage halls on the farmlands.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan took up the matter in 2007 and directed the CDA to launch an operation against the owners for non-conforming use of the agro-farmlands. The latest direction from the apex court came in November 2012.

Syed Mustafain Kazmi, the CDA member planning, when contacted for comment, said: “We have registered an FIR against the owners of the farmhouse for opening fire on the government officials and obstructing them from carrying out their duty.”

He said no official was injured and police help was sought to demolish the illegal construction in the farmhouse.Another official added: “When the inmates did not open the gate of the farmhouse, we managed to enter it. After entering the premises, we told the guards that we have legal papers to demolish the structures,” he maintained.

The guards, however, started threatening the officials with dire consequences. “We informed the guards that under the Supreme Court directives we have to demolish the structures. But as soon as our machinery entered the farmhouse, the guards opened fire on us,” said the official.

“We had to call the police and after arrival of the police, we started the operation and razed the additional illegal structures.”

The official said the guards and owners of the farmhouse were asked to stay away from the operation. “The police helped the CDA in managing the operation.”

Mr Kazmi explained that the farmhouse had structures beyond the permissible covered area of around 10,000 square feet.

The member planning added: “Till date, we have sealed over eight farmhouses for non-conforming use but this was for the first time that we faced such a resistance.”

In its press release, the CDA said: “When a team started the operation for the removal of the unauthorised construction, the owners of the farmhouse – Fahad Malik and Jawwad Malik – did not allow the CDA staff to carry out the operation.”

They threatened the CDA staff with dire consequences and then the owners along with their companions started firing with illegal automatic weapons, including AK-47.