The allottees of several housing societies in Karachi’s Gulshan-e-Maymar and Gulzar-e-Hijri are being forced to stay away from their land.
A powerful mafia is encroaching the land of these Scheme 33 land owners, but the government doesn’t seem to care.
What is a cooperative housing society for?
A cooperative housing society is a setup formed through mutual cooperation and consent of a number of members.
According to the Cooperative Housing Society Act, 1925, a 30-member consortium – residents of Karachi – are eligible to register a cooperative housing society with the Sindh Cooperative Housing Societies registrar.
Scheme 33 is home to around 200 such housing societies in Gulshan-e-Maymar and Gulzar-e-Hijri.
Tahir Ahmed Shaikh, 75, who has a 240-square yard plot in the Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation Cooperative Housing Society, says his plot is being encroached upon by the ‘qabza mafia’. But it’s not just him.
This is the story of countless others too, he says.
PIDC Cooperative Housing Society was established in 1971 at Sector 26-A, Scheme 33 of Gulzar-e-Hijri for the employees of the federal department.
It is spread over 40 acres of land with 450 plots of different categories ranging between 120 square yards and 600 square yards.
The ‘qabza’ mafia also reportedly has a strong influence and control in other cooperative housing societies, such as the Pakistan Scientists Cooperative Housing Society, PCSIR Employees Cooperative Housing Society, Al-Habib Cooperative Housing Society and Ex-servicemen Cooperative Housing Society.
Shaikh, a retired grade 17 officer from PIDC, told Samaa Digital that he retired in 1983 as an architect. “The department allotted me a 240-square yard plot in PIDC Cooperative Housing Society. Not only are mine, but hundreds of plots are being encroached by with the support of the society’s office-bearers,” Tahir said.
He says the registrar of all the cooperative housing societies is misusing the society’s 1925 Act.
The society bylaws state that the members of any cooperative society include an administrator, a general secretary and office-bearers. The act does not allow anyone to appoint a private member, who is not part of the 30-person consortium, to be an administrator.
But this is exactly what is happening.
Shaikh said the “powerful” mafia has encroached around 300 plots of the PIDC housing society by making fake files with the help of an administrator appointed by registrar
He says he has the inside story. PIDC Cooperative Housing Society had its original allottees till 2009. In 2010, the Sindh government appointed a private person as its administrator. This is where the problem started as the department deputed its “own” society administrator who was not already a member of the society.
This practice started from 2010 and several other societies followed suit.
Private member reportedly started changing the original records of the allottees with the help of a fake managing committee and put the papers in the name of their own people, who later encroached the plots.
“Fake files are being made by the administrator and his allies with the support of government officials,” Shaikh says.
He shared an incident from last month when some of the allottees visited their plots with their families. They were reportedly attacked and threatened by armed men. The families, including women and children, were told to leave immediately or face dire consequences, said Shaikh.
Shaikh said these men had sticks and weapons. “I saved my family with great difficulty and got out of there,” he said.
An FIR has been registered by him at the Sachal police station. He visited the Sindh cooperative housing society’s registrar office as well to register a complaint, but says no one was ready to hear him out.
SAMAA Digital made a visit to the registrar’s office to see what was happening. The registrar, Sohail Baloch, was not very cooperative and seemed reluctant to share information about the current status of housing societies.
After much insistence, he finally referred the query to the deputy registrar, Mansoor A Siddiqui. His office was at a short distance from the registrar’s office.
Siddiqui said the basic functions of the cooperative society’s office are to run and manage the working affairs and supervise the affairs of housing societies as per the 1925 Act and 1927 Rules.
“We are not law enforcers. It is the responsibility of the allottees to safeguard their own land,” the deputy registrar said.
Siddiqui said the department has brought a private person as an administrator because it had received reports of corruption from members.
The deputy registrar was not, however, able to point out any corruption case. He only managed to say that the department appointed the private administrator as per the rules governing the cooperative housing societies.