SADIQBABAD - Local land owners staged a protest demonstration against the management of a fertilizers company for allegedly pressurising them to sell their lands worth more than Rs1 billion to the company at mere Rs100 million here the other day.

Talking to The Nation, land owners of Mauza Baig Mehr and Mauza Khuda Bakhsh alleged that Fatima Fertilizers Company had been persuading them to sell their lands to the company at lower rates since long. They said that they owned 600 acres of land adjacent to the premises of the company which the company’s management intended to buy at Rs200,000 per acre. “On refusal, the company raised the purchasing price from Rs200,000 to Rs1 million per acre. They intend to purchase the land worth more than Rs1 billion at mere Rs100 million,” they alleged and added “The company has now connived with some higher-ups in the Punjab government and the district administration. With the backing of these two giants, the company management aims at getting us evicted from our lands which we won’t let happen.” Land owners said that they would die but never allow the company exploit them by purchasing their lands at much lower rates. “Instead of providing us protection, the Punjab government is allegedly siding with the company and is pressurising us to sell our lands,” they alleged. The claimed to have submitted complaints to the authorities concerned but to no avail. They also accused the company’s management of threatening them to occupy their lands which, they said, had made their nights restless.

Meanwhile, Provincial Minister for Special Education Ch Muhammad Shafiq reached the spot and negotiated with the protesting land owners. The land owners including Shaban, Riasat Ali, Hadayatullah Mehr, Musaddiq Khan, Rahman Malik and Rahim Daud apprised the minister of injustice they were faced with. The minister assured them of solution to their problems, saying no one would be allowed to exploit them using his authority or political influence. He promised them to bring the issue into the notice of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif.