LAHORE - Many of the thousands of victims of Pakistan’s biggest land scam case staged a strong demonstration at the Lahore Press Club Thursday, triggering traffic mess in the downtown.

The protesters, including women and children, chanted slogans against the Defense Housing Authority, the “nationally recognised corporate” organisation involved in construction of houses by building communities with modern lifestyle. Thousands of people purchased files of plots by paying their hard-earned money as the authority announced the new housing project in 2009.

More than 10,000 citizens are running from pillar to post to get plots in the new housing colony, notwithstanding they paid the price in advance several years ago. The national accountability court has been investigating the land fraud involving investment of billions of rupees.

The protest demonstration continued for an hour amid traffic jumbles, although the protesters did not block the road. They were carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands.

The posters could be read as “We want immediate relief and just want plots from DHA .”

Several policemen reached the spot and managed to disperse the protesters after assuring them that their demands would be conveyed to the quarters concerned.

One of the protesters told The Nation that the people sitting at the helm of affairs should take notice of the biggest land fraud case as well. “We had a dream of living under our own roof. We have been robbed of our belongings. We just appeal for justice and our plots,” a female protester said. Another protester said, “We are being ignored because those who committed the fraud are more powerful.”

In addition to their regular protests on streets, the victims also took to the social media to raise their voice. “Stop new DHA projects before settling our plots,” Haroon Toor demanded on a Facebook page.

According to the Lahore DHA affectees’ public group on Facebook, they have 3,753 victims as members.

The project of modern housing was launched initially to accommodate the families of martyred soldiers and wounded soldiers by allotting them small plots. One of the accused persons is said to be Kamran Kayani, a brother of former army chief Gen (r) Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani. Reportedly, Kamran Kayani of Elysium Holding and Hamaad Arshad of Globaco had offered their services to facilitate DHA in carrying out the project by acquiring land.

However, both the companies failed to deliver any plots to soldiers or the families of martyrs despite the lapse of more than seven years. At one stage, DHA was left with no choice except to lodge a formal complaint against Kamran Kayani and Hamaad Arshad with NAB.

Media reports in recent past suggested that the interior ministry does not seem to be interested in bringing back Kamran from abroad in the Rs15 billion scam .

 There are more than 11,700 affected persons registered with the DHA , which claims that Globaco - now known as Orange Holding Private Limited - had intentionally kept delaying the project and gave different options for more financial gains.

ASHRAF JAVED