LAHORE - The recent actions taken by country’s top judge against influential individuals have virtually shaken the land mafia particularly those involved in the business of ‘disputed properties’ in this sprawling metropolis.

According to investigations conducted by The Nation, several powerful men have been locked up after the city police opened criminal cases against them. Mansha Bomb, Khokhar Brothers, Khawaja Azhar Gulshan, and Nadeem Bara are a few living examples.

Police officials who spoke to The Nation on condition of anonymity said a number of street gang operators went underground as police intensified a full-scale crackdown against the land grabbers.

“Since the CJP is directly listening to the victims of land grabbers, the police are aggressively hunting for the accused persons. Now, officials at police stations are waiting for the complainants to come and file their complaints (against the land grabbers),” an official said.

Believe it or not, Lahore police recently made announcements in local mosques, urging citizens to come out and identify the land grabbers. Also, the Superintendents of Police (SPs) arranged open courts in different parts of the city to personally hear the complaints against land grabbers.

The Lahore police sprang into action only after Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Naisar took strong notice of a large number of complaints against land grabbers.

Real estate including residential and commercial properties worth billions of rupees has been evacuated from the illegal occupants in Lahore during the last couple of months.

Before CJP’s notice, this property was in possession of the powerful land grabbers and Lahore police were unable to take any legal step against the mafia.

Member National Assembly Afzal Khokhar was arrested from the premises of Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry on Tuesday. The latest arrest comes one day after the Lahore police registered a criminal case against Afzal Khokhar.

The Nawab Town police registered the FIR against the MNA on the complaint of a British Pakistani Muhammad Ali Zafar under section 448 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

According to the complainant, he had bought 34 marlas land situated across from his residence in the Sultanpura area. He said that the then-owner Tariq Mahmood had demarcated the land in his presence. Zafar claimed that Khokhar Palace, the lavish residence of the MNA had since been built on his land.

On Tuesday, a three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar resumed hearing of the case related to alleged land grabbing by Afzal Khokhar and his brother Saiful Malook Khokhar. The bench also ordered Punjab’s anti-corruption department to investigate Saiful Malook and sent back a detailed report.

Two weeks ago, Lahore police arrested Khawaja Azhar Gulshan, the elder brother of underworld Don Khawaja Tareef Gulshan alias Teefi Butt.

Azhar Gulshan was arrested and booked by police for demanding extortion money from Hafiz Fayyaz, the owner of Hassan Centre and hurling threats at him for not paying the extortion amount. The complainant alleged that he paid Rs 400,000 to the gangster but refused to pay him more money for renting out his own property.

In September, Malik Mansha Ali Khokhar, alias Mansha Bomb, was arrested from the Supreme Court of Pakistan after he reached there to surrender himself.

Mansha is wanted to police in more than 80 criminal cases registered against him in Lahore. The suspected land grabber then shifted to Lahore and handed over to the police for investigations.

At the time his arrest, Mansha Bomb claimed that PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif had been unfair to him and that he was a PTI supporter. Mansha’s arrest also put PTI lawmakers including MNA Malik Karamat Khokhar and MPA Nadeem Abbas in hot waters over allegedly meddling in the police affairs and sheltering land grabbers.

While hearing a case at the SC Lahore Registry regarding the illegal occupation of nine plots in Johar Town area, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar asked, “Since when has the PTI started behaving like thugs?”

He added, “Did people vote for you for this? Are you going to make a new Pakistan while helping thugs?” “Karamat Khokhar, you will not go back as an MNA if found guilty in today’s inquiry,” the CJP stated. “I will not let any thug live in the country.”

Earlier, an overseas petitioner Mahmood Ashraf alleged that a land grabber Mansha Bomb had allegedly grabbed his property while police were reluctant to take action against the land grabber.

During the hearing, the CJP had inquired, “Who is Mansha Bomb?” He was informed by SP Mohammad Maaz that the man was a notorious land grabber in Johar Town who, along with his sons, has been accused of illegally occupying land in Johar Town belonging to multiple people. “70 cases have been registered against Mansha,” the SP had apprised the bench.

“When we took action on the court’s orders, we began receiving calls to stop our operation,” the police official said. The SP stated that PTI MNA Khokhar had influenced the police over the issue. Khokhar denied knowing Mansha.

Although the police are taking action against the land grabbers on the orders of the Supreme Court yet many victims say that they were given cold shoulder when they approached police for help.

A resident of Karbath village on Tuesday told this reporter that he reached the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry to appear before the top judge but he was stopped by a police officer outside. “The officer asked me to visit his office (instead of appearing before the CJP) and he would take action against the land grabber. When I reached his office, the officer was not interested to listen to my complaint, said the latest victim of land mafia in Lahore.