LAHORE  -   The Supreme Court on Sunday sought a report from the Punjab Irrigation Department in a petition which alleges that water is being stolen from the River Ravi and Abasia Link Canal by India.

Hearing the case at the apex court’s Lahore Registry, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar ordered Punjab Irrigation Department Secretary Ali Murtaza to submit a report on the issue by January 4.

He questioned why India is stealing Pakistan’s water, and remarked: “We will not let India steal our water.”

He added the court would not permit the theft of water from the canal. He said that stealing water from the canal is equal to sucking the farmers’ blood. He asked whether the Punjab government was acquainted with whether India was stealing water from the Ravi River. And if so, what measures had been taken to fight the situation, he further asked.

However, the secretary irrigation said that water was not being stolen by the neighbouring country India. On the reply, the chief justice ordered an operation by the Irrigation Department and police against those stealing water.

He said that no one would be allowed to exploit the situation. He directed that cases be registered against those stealing water in the country. He asked the secretary to tell those in power that was chief justice of Pakistan’s warning.

The chief justice directed the preservation of water from these channels as it is essential for the purposes of irrigation. He warned that whoever bids to steal Pakistan’s water would bear the consequences.

On the other side, a number of people kept protesting against injustice particularly against illegal possession of their lands.

Most of the protesters gathered there against the illegal possession, complained that the land mafia of their respective areas was very influential and organised. They said that the grabbers first prepared illegal documents of their land and then grabbed their properties, pointing finger at the corrupt official of revenue department. They said that land mafia connive with the government officials and snatch the land of poor people after preparing fake documents.

They also complained that the land grabbers grease the authorities’ palm to get their illegal talks fulfilled. They said that they were turning from pillar to post against the influential people but to no avail.

One of the protesters was Hina Bibi who said that her house had been grabbed by the local land mafia in Bahawalpur.

A huge contingent of police - male and female - deployed outside the registry remained alert to stop the protesters from entering the building as they wanted to approach the chief justice for the early reddressal of their grievances.

They appealed to the chief justice to take their cases too and provide them with justice.