LAHORE: Employees of the Punjab Land Record Employees (PLRA) continued their protest for the tenth consecutive day in front of the provincial assembly on Wednesday despite government assurances that their demands will be addressed shortly.
In the meantime, Mall Road witnessed a massive traffic jam as all routes leading up to Faisal chowk remained clogged with traffic.
Barricades were placed and City Traffic Police (CTP) personnel were deployed at Mall road, Davis road, Lawrence road, Regal chowk, and Faisal chowk.
On Wednesday, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA Shaheen Raza Cheema assured protestors that the government had taken notice of their grievances and was making efforts to having them addressed.
The protestors, however, complained that such promised had earlier been made by government representatives but no tangible action had been taken.
PLRA officials have been calling for the establishment of a proper service structure and increment in their salaries which they say have not increased for the past three years.
As a result of the protest, over 152 Arazi Record Centres (ARC) across the province have been shut down, rendering the land authority virtually dysfunctional.
According to a PLRA official, “Only people who have availed the service before are being issued Fards while transaction Fards are not being issued because the substitute staff placed temporarily by the authority is untrained and therefore unable to deal with such matters.”
“In addition to that, overseas Pakistanis are also having to face problems since they don’t have much time on their hands to have their transaction Fard and Fard for records issued as many of them have not used PLRA services before,” he said.
“With the arrival of the harvest season, farmers are also in dire need of government loans which they are unable to obtain due to the continuing protest which is not allowing them to access their land records,” he added.
According to another official, speaking on condition of anonymity, “Termination letters of five Arazi Record Centre Union Punjab (ARCUP) members were issued amidst the protest in the early hours of Wednesday which include names of leading union members Bilal Hassan, Hassan Bilal Mir, Mian Shahid, Zain ul Abideen and Qamar Ibrahim while show-cause notices were issued for 25 others.”
On Tuesday, an First Information Report (FIR) was also lodged against eight ARCUP members which included names of Action Committee President Ateeuq ur Rehman Randhawa along with leading members Asim Ishaq, Jahanzeb Bara, Muhammad Afzal, Muhammad Hassan Mir, Qamar Siddique, Qamar Ibrahim and Zain ul Abideen for violating the Punjab Sound System (Regulation) Act 2015 and the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1960.
The source also added that the Board of Governors (BOG) meeting that took place over 20 days ago also sent its recommendations to the provincial finance department in regard to meeting the protestors’ demands.
Despite having received the BOG’s recommendations there has been no development on part of the finance department regarding the demands of the protesting PLRA employees.
According to PLRA Director- General (DG) Hafiz Shaukat, “We are making every effort to ensure that ARCs function as before; we have installed substitute staff to work temporarily so as not to disrupt the ARC’s work,” he said.
“People can now have their Fards issued at NADRA e-centres whereas all banks have also been given access to land records so they can grant loans to farmers; we have also established a service counter at PLRA Head Quarters where people from across the province will be able to access their (land) records,” he added.