The Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi Bench on Monday directed the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) to immediately de-seal Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid’s Lal Haveli residence in Rawalpindi. Earlier in the day, the ETPB had sealed former interior minister’s Lal Haveli residence in Rawalpindi over “illegal occupation”. Subsequently, Sheikh Rashid had approached the LHC against the move, stating that the ETPB officials were “misusing their powers under the orders of political high-ups”. The petition urged the court to declare the move “illegal, unlawful [and] contrary to norms of justice” while also asking for the board to be restrained from “adopting coercive measures against the petitioners for their forcible eviction form the properties”. Justice Mirza Waqas Rauf presided over today’s hearing, during which ETPB administrator appeared with the relevant records. He argued that Lal Haveli was not sealed, the adjoining property was. Sheikh Rashid protested to the claim, saying that he was “an old man”. “I don’t lie. Lal Haveli was sealed,” he told the court. His lawyer also presented a photograph of the residence being sealed to the court. The judge reprimanded the ETPB administrator for not presenting a clear stance and directed the board to immediately de-seal the property. The court also directed the ETPB to resolve the matter, which concerns 7 units, within 15 days after listening to the petitioner’s stance and disposed of the petition. According to ETPB Deputy Commissioner Asif Khan, two units of the Lal Haveli and five adjoining units were sealed after teams of the board along with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrived at the spot early morning on Monday. Khan said Sh Rashid’s ownership of these Lal Haveli units had been cancelled over illegal occupation of land. Several notices had also been issued to Rashid and his brother in this regard, he added. The former minister claimed that Lal Haveli was his “personal property” and a “central secretariat for public service”. The ex-minister tweeted that he did not receive a notice prior to the action, adding sealing Lal Haveli was an act of fascism and terrorism. “If it is proven that Lal Haveli is not our personal property, we should be declared national criminals,” Sh Rashid said, claiming that the government took this step after it failed to find anything against him. He went on to say that a case pertaining to the ownership of the Lal Haveli was already fixed for hearing on February 15. In a press conference later in the day, Sh Rashid said that authorities had planned to arrest him but he managed to escape. “I was told that my ownership of Lal Haveli was of 3.5 marlas and not four marlas. These are all lies […] even if you try to touch the Lal Haveli, I will give a call and block the Murree Road,” he warned. The ex-minister revealed that he was approached by several international directors who wanted to make a movie on Lal Haveli. “They have even offered me copyrights and this is what is bothering the government.” If any FIA officer tried to step into the territory of Lal Haveli, Rashid continued, “we will exercise our constitutional right to fight for our property”.