Land Mafia Adapts New Tactics Of Extortion

(Fawad Ali Shah, )

An influential group of land grabbing mafia is active in Old Bara Road, University Town, Peshawar, and has adapted a very unique way of grabbing plots/land from public or in other words demand a huge sum of money as extortion by hook or crook. The modus operandi of this group is simple but very complex for those people who are not aware of revenue record and trust the seller and the area patwari. It is necessary to mention here that the Patwari being the custodian of the record plays a vital role in land grabbing process as they provide even minutiae details regarding properties of the locality to the land mafia.

The ancestors, of this land mafia group, owned joint properties in Old Bara Road, University Town, Peshawar, Moza Pawaka, who have sold it at the market value at that time to different people back in the 80s and 90s. The seller of the land/plot would intentionally with the connivance of patwari enter/register in the mutation document “Inteqal” one or two original khasras of the land situated on the spot while the rest of the khasras are situated miles away or even nonexistent while the innocent purchaser, would never have an idea of the real fact. As time passed and the value of these properties increased 100 times their second and third-generations realized the fact and got involved in the properties sold by their ancestors’ decades ago. For instance, they very cunningly come to the doorstep and inform the owner who has purchased the plot/house direct from their ancestors or a third party years ago and explains that the owner only owns a small portion in this piece of land while the rest plot is in the name of their ancestor. Furthermore, the land mafia forcefully insists to separate the specified portion to them or pay huge amount for their land claiming to be sold by their ancestors otherwise the owner may face dire consequences or may also face litigation in the court of law.

For instance, the owner of a 2 Kanal plot who purchased the property from the land mafia’s ancestors in the mid-70s and constructed a house on it. Living in the house for three decades the possessor of the property converted his house into a guest house. Furthermore, in the year 2017, the same house was demolished and started construction of 7 story apartments building on the plot. During the completion of apartments building the land mafia was silent but after completion of the structure, the land mafia started using their tactics for demanding extortion. The land mafia approached the owner and explained that their ancestors had not sold

him the whole plot and a few marlas in the same plot are still in the name of the land mafia’s father, so the owner of the plot is advised to separate their portion from the building or pay for it otherwise the land mafia will go to court and separate their portion from the building or may use other methods of force for recovery of extortion. The owner of the plot then has no option but to sit in a fake Jirga arranged by the land mafia and force the possessor to meet the demands of mafia.

Similarly, a businessman of the locality on the condition of anonymity said that a young man inherited 4.5 Kanal plot from his father who purchased it from a third party in the 70s and since then living there for the last four decades. A few months back the same land mafia approached him and demanded the extortion of 10 million rupees from him. While the innocent man refused to pay extortion the land mafia first started intimidated him and later on brutally beaten by 12 Ghundas “gangsters” of the land mafia due to which the innocent person spent a few days in the hospital as well.

Furthermore, if by any chance the khasras of the plot/house are found correct the land grabber mafia change their strategy and inform the owner of the plot/house that their ancestors sold the plot only, and not the pathway so the owner has no right to use their pathway unless the owner of the plot/house pay them a huge amount of compensation in shape of extortion. This fact of blackmailing of this land mafia group is evident from their court cases against more than 100 innocent families living in Afzal Abad, University Town, Peshawar. Moreover, it is important to mention here that the current patwari of Moza Pwaka is also in connivance of land mafia and provide every possible means of help to this group. It is necessary to mention here that the current patwari (Alam Zeb Afridi) is not only issuing false and fabricated copies of mutations ‘Inteqal’ to the public but even tempers revenue records for the sake of a handful amount he receives from the land mafia. Additionally, the land mafia has also provided a free house/accommodation and an office to the patwari in Hadi Lane, the same area so that the patwari can very comfortably provide help.

To sum-up, the land mafia is active in every corner of Peshawar city but their tactics are changed and the innocent public is openly intimidated and forcefully ripped off of their valuable lands or in alternative their hard-earned lifetime reserves in shape of extortion. Patwaries under the nose of the revenue department plays a crucial role during the land-grabbing process by

providing key details of properties to the land mafia. Despite several crackdowns on the land mafia groups and the government's assurances to prevent the public and to clean the city from land mafia yet nothing has been done and the land mafia is still active in the city which clearly shows the failure of law enforcement agencies and district administration. The valuable rights of the public are at stake therefore, an immediate investigation of Patwari of Moza Pawaka in this matter is needed. Moreover, the NAB is requested to formulate a policy for curbing this menace of getting the innocent people by fake Jirga’s, and the rouge people, patwaries and land grabbers.

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