Drinking tea with friends or sitting with colleagues after a day’s work is a common sight at different khokhas or kiosks. But people in Islamabad may not be able to enjoy this for much longer as the fate of its 486 licenced khokhas hangs in the balance after a court dismissed their petition against demolition.
More than 30 khokha owners waited at the Islamabad High Court for the verdict. After three hours, Justice Aamer Farooq came and said: “Dismissed.”
Many were left confused and their lawyers clarified that the verdict has been given on their different petitions challenging the demolition. The khokha owners plan to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court, Umer Gilani, who was representing the petitioners, told SAMAA Digital.
The two-member bench, comprising Justices Farooq and Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, may dilate on the reasons for dismissal in their court order. The verdict, however, was not available after court proceedings ended on Monday.
“There are 500 such khokhas employing over 2,000 workers and serving affordable food to over 50,000 Islamabadis,” the lawyer tweeted after the verdict.
Islamabad khokhas were demolished during the city’s ‘anti-encroachment’ drive even though they held valid licences from the Capital Development Authority. They were even paying the authority to get them renewed. The court was told that the khokhas can’t be labelled as ‘encroachments’. They argued that the lives of 500 households were dependent on the revenue from these khokhas.
The Islamabad mayor, on the other hand, said that the khokhas should be demolished, adding that they are a blot on the beauty of Islamabad.
The CDA was ordered on July 3 to remove all khokhas in the city. Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani had remarked then that since khokhas were not part of the CDA master plan prepared in 1962 by Doxiade and Associate, they are all liable to be demolished. He said that all khokhas should be given at least 30 days to clear out their belongings and products.
However, barely a week later, on July 7, the CDA bulldozed more than 100 khokhas in the city. The stall owners were not informed ahead of time and many lost their belongings and stock.