SBCA chief identifies ‘portion mafia’ members in letter to Karachi police chief

Faraz Khan
Sunday, Oct 01, 2023

The relevant authorities have widened the scope of the crackdown initiated by the interim Sindh government on the land mafia in Karachi by also targeting individuals involved in illegal constructions of residential buildings with multiple ‘portions’.

This concerted effort marks a significant step in addressing rampant unauthorised construction activities that have plagued the urban landscape.

The crackdown, initially aimed at curbing the activities of land grabbers and illegal encroachments, has gained momentum as authorities seek to dismantle the network of individuals responsible for unlawful building practices also known as ‘portion mafia’.

Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) Director General (DG) Ishaque Khuhro, in a recent letter to Karachi Additional IG Khadim Hussain Rind has outlined the need for rigorous action against those involved in illegal construction activities. The letter includes comprehensive information about the culprits, including their connections to counterfeit media groups and certain SBCA officials.

The suspects mentioned in the letter include Saqib bin Rauf, his brother Kashif bin Rauf, Salman, Fahad Shafique, Fahad Hashwani, Junaid Nafees and builder Faraz Ali. The SBCA chief said they were involved in the business illegal constructions. The letter also mentions mobile phone numbers of the suspects along with details of plots that had unauthorised constructions.

The authorities intend to take legal action against these individuals and cases are being registered against them.

“Initially, the private mafia persons involved in illegal constructions only in District Central have been targeted and it will be extended to other districts of the city,” an SBCA official explained.

A copy of the letter sent by the SBCA DG to the Karachi police chief was obtained by The News. In the letter, the SBCA chief requested the Karachi additional IG to take stern action against the private mafia involved in illegal constructions and lodge cases against them.

The letter mentions that the SBCA director for District Central had identified the aforementioned suspects who were in collusion with certain fake media groups and involved in the construction of illegal buildings in Gulberg and other ares of District Central. “You are requested to take stern action against them and lodge FIR against them,” reads the letter.

When the Karachi additional IG was contacted, he said the SHOs of the police stations mentioned in the letter such as Taimuria, Shahrah-e-Noor Jahan, Nazimabad and Azizabad had been given the instructions to arrest the suspects but so far none of them had been apprehended.

He added that the police were going to register FIRs against the suspects on the complaint of the SBCA officer concerned.

A source in the SBCA said the recent development came after a demolition team of the authority went to North Nazimabad Block J to raze an illegal construction. However, when they began the demolition work, some members of the portion mafia threatened them, due to which the team returned.

When this information reached the SBCA DG, he took action and decided to file FIRs against the members of the private mafia.

One of the suspects mentioned in the letter, Fahad Shafique, later sent a legal notice to the SBCA, in which it was stated that the authority had accused him of involvement in illegal constructions without any evidence.

The legal notice said Shafique was an office-bearer of a political party and the SBCA had tried to unduly defame him in its letter to the Karachi police chief. The notice said Shafique had the right to initiate legal proceedings against the SBCA chief if he did not provide evidence against him.

The system

The menace of illegal constructions has been thriving in the city because of the nexus between the portion mafia and government officials that has resulted in an organised system.

The ‘portion business’ operates within a structured system and involves a chain of individuals that extends from private landowners to beaters, builders, officers and even senior government functionaries.

A builder who requested anonymity said that in Gulberg Town, if a builder obtained approval for a 120-square-yard house, they are likely to pay Rs800,000 to the system for a ground-plus-two-floor construction.

After getting approval for ground plus two floors, the builder might then violate the rules by adding more portions or floors. In such cases, for each floor beyond the second floor, they are required to pay Rs1,600,000 to the system. Those who do not pay may face the demolition of their building or floor. He claimed that Rs50 million weekly went to the corrupt system in Gulberg.