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Traders resist operation to vacate old fruit and vegetable market land

Traders resist operation to vacate old fruit and vegetable market land

FAISALABAD: Traders resisted the operation launched by the district administration and police to clear ‘encroachments’ from the land of old Nazimabad vegetable and fruit market, where the chief minister has announced setting up an IT varsity and a skill centre.

A heavy police contingent, along with bulldozers and employees of different departments, started the operation in the morning.

The traders, reacting violently to the operation, pelted official and private vehicles with stones, throwing traffic out of gear on Jhang Road. They alleged the administration had not issued them any notice prior to the operation to vacate the land.

The piece of land in the heart of the bustling city used to house vegetable and fruit market, but in 1998 the government ordered shifting of the market to Sidhar where the traders were provided alternative land for doing business. However, many traders kept using the land for storage of their merchandise. Some of the land is also being used for residential purpose.

The protesting traders termed the operation to illegal, claiming their cases pertaining the land were pending in courts. However, Deputy Commissioner Salman Ghani said that the vegetable and fruit market had been shifted to Sidhar in 1998 and all the shopkeepers had been allotted land there.

He said even after getting land in the new market, some of the traders filed petitions in various courts, including the Supreme Court, against the administration, but they lost the case in 2010. He claimed that all illegal occupants had been served notices to vacate the state land, but of no avail.

He said that following the decision of the CM to establish a varsity on the land, the commissioner, police and he himself visited the area and asked the illegal occupants to vacate the land but they did not.

The traders, on the other hand, alleged the administration did not serve them any notice prior to the operation to vacate the land. They said that because of the sudden operation, they suffered huge financial losses as they could not shift their merchandise to some other place.

The land falls in the constituency of both Rana Sanaullah, the law minister and Abid Sher Ali, the water and power minister.

Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah later told the media that “traders are our brothers and they had been asked through notices to vacate the land”. He said the traders had been provided alternative land for shifting of their businesses.

He said the IT university ordered by the chief minister would benefit the people of Faisalabad, including the traders. Anjuman-i-Arthian Fruit and Vegetables, Sidhar, president Aamir Hanif said the traders would not accept establishment of a university on the land of old vegetable market.

He said these traders had been doing business there for generations and it would be injustice to vacate the place “without any notice”.

He said scores of families had also been living there for years who were not ready to surrender the land for the university.

He urged the chief minister to review the decision.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2017

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