Polls made an excuse for sparing Afghan slums
ISLAMABAD, Feb 25: The Islamabad capital territory (ICT) administration on Monday made an excuse of the upcoming elections for delaying an operation against the illegal Afghan katchi abadi in Sector I-11.
During the meeting of a sub-committee of National Assembly standing committee on cabinet secretariat, Maryam Khan, the additional deputy commissioner (general) of the ICT, said because of the upcoming elections the administration did not want to create unrest in the city.
The meeting was held to monitor the implementation process of the decision of the standing committee regarding removal of the Afghan slum.
Hameedullah Jan Afridi, the convener of the committee, showed annoyance over the justification of the official and said it was the job of the government to think about the consequences of an operation. “Bureaucracy has to obey the decision of the standing committee,” he remarked.
Naveedul Haq, the director of the enforcement wing of the CDA, told the meeting that at about 6am on February 7, 2013, an anti-encroachment team from the Capital Development Authority (CDA) reached the sector to launch the operation.
Though Magistrate Rabia Aurangzeb was informed about the operation a day earlier, she did not turn up nor receive the calls, he added. Under the law, such an operation can only be launched in the presence of a magistrate.
“We contacted the deputy commissioner through the chairman CDA after which the magistrate was sent to the site at about 11am. However, the magistrate told the team that she wanted to see the slum first and moved ahead and disappeared,” he said.
The director said the police were also not ready to cooperate with the enforcement team. “SP Ashfaq Ahmed was sitting half a kilometre away from the site and said the CDA should start the operation and in case of any resistance from the dwellers he would send his men,” he said.
“I went to the deputy commissioner office but he was not ready to confirm when he would send a magistrate again. So I and Shaista Sohail, the member estate CDA, went to the office of Inspector General of Police Bani Amin Khan but he was also not interested in the operation. The IGP said his first priority was to maintain peace,” he said.
SP Industrial Area Ashfaq Ahmed told the meeting that there were only 66 personnel in the Sabzi Mandi police station so it was not possible for him to give proper cover to the CDA team. However, he said 32 policemen were permanently on the disposal of the CDA and another 80 were in the reserve force, so the civic agency should have used them for the operation.
Hameedullah Jan Afridi directed that another meeting should be convened within 24 hours and the presence of the IGP, the chief commissioner Islamabad and the CDA chairman should be ensured in the meeting, “because I want to decide a final date for the operation.”
“My only concern is that low-paid employees, widows and retired persons have purchased plots in the sector and encroachers have occupied these plots for decades,” he said.
Issue of I-11
The land for the development of Sector I-11 was acquired by the CDA in 1968. The civic agency fixed compensation for the built-up property in the area in 1975 and paid the compensation to 94 per cent of the affected people.
Starting in 1990, as many as 2,497 small plots were allotted to the affected people, CDA employees and the public in the sector. Some of the affected people and the CDA employees sold the plots but the purchasers are still waiting for the possession of the plots.
In 2009, another package deal was announced when the residents of Sorain village in the sector refused to vacate their land.
According to the package deal, 1,200 plots were to be allotted in Sector I-12 to the affected people of the village. So far, 1,155 plots have been allotted to them.
According to record provided to the standing committee by the CDA, 7,995 people still living in the sector are not only a hurdle in the development of the sector but also a threat to the security of the capital because of their alleged involvement in crime and drug trafficking.
Extremists and weapon smugglers also find a safe haven in the area under the garb of refugees.