RAHIM YAR KHAN

Shopkeepers of Gulmerg Bridge Road protested against the Tehsil Municipal Administration over its raid to retrieve the alleged state land from the traders.

TMA officials including Tehsil Officer Regulation Dawood Tauqeer Alam and Land Officer Afzal Soomru and other employees with police force reached Gulmerg Bridge to seal the shops of those owners who had not paid rent for the last many years.

When TMA team started removing the tables and locked the shops, dozens of shopkeepers gathered there and resisted the action. They surrounded the TMA team and stopped the staff from working. Some shopkeepers turned aggressive and raised slogans against TMA staff and forced the team to leave the spot.

Later, shopkeepers including Fazal Saleemi, Muhammad Abid, Saleem and Gulzar Ahmed told reporters that almost 100 shopkeepers have ownership of these shops but TMA officials arrived to collect the rent. They said that they have ownership documents of these shops but TMA also claims the ownership of these shops that was, what they said, wrong.

They further said that the matter was also in litigation but civil and sessions courts declared the ownership of these shops in their favour although some cases are still in the court. They claimed that they pay property tax of these shops to Excise and Taxation Department which is a proof of their ownership. Another shopkeeper said that most of the shopkeepers were the supporters of PPP so the TMA staff was victimising them to please the ruling party legislators.

On the other hand a TMA employee said that these shops were the property of TMA but with the connivance of the Revenue Department staff, most of the shopkeepers got the shops registered in their names. TMO Sardar Naseer said that there are over 100 shops on Gulmerg Road which is the property of TMA. He said that more than 75 shopkeepers got transferred and registered these shops with the coordination of corrupt employees of Revenue Department. He said that in the ownership documents of shopkeepers khata number is different than actual khata number but they got written the location and possession of these shops. He said that there was an FIR against these fake registries in the anti-corruption office Bahawalpur. He further said that he suspended two TMA employees, Patwari Arif and a clerk in this regard. He further said that TMA staff sealed 5 shops and an FIR was being prepared against aggressive shopkeepers with police station B division.