Rawalpindi: Land mafia edges out the dead
RAWALPINDI: Flouting a 2009 order of the Supreme Court to purge it of encroachers, a graveyard in Rawalpindi is still in the clutches of powerful land mafia.
The people of Dhoke Munshi Khan, union council 79, cannot bury their dead in the graveyard because of the fear of land grabbers, who have set up structures on it. The union council falls in the constituency of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly.
The land measuring nine kanals and two marlas was given by the military authorities in 1987 to the district administration Rawalpindi for burial purposes. However according an inquiry conducted by the revenue authorities of Rawalpindi, six encroachers – Mohammad Riaz, Mohammad Miskeen, Raja Mumtaz Ahmed, Mohammad Rafique and Mohammad Jamil – had illegally occupied six kanals and 14 marlas.
After the Supreme Court order, the local administration did move against the encroachers but half heartedly, smashing some of the structures but never getting the land of the graveyard back.
Inhabited by over 40,000, most of the residents of Dhoke Munshi Khan have to go all the way to Dhamial, which is 30 kilometres from their union council, for burying the dead.
“We cannot even dare speak against the powerful encroachers,” said a resident, who insisted on anonymity. “They (land mafia) have established a dairy farm at the graveyard.”
He said the petitioner who approached the Supreme Court for taking suo motu notice constantly “receives threats”.
The graveyard is one kilometre from the Airport police station while the residence of PML-N MPA Chaudhary Sarfraz Afzal is only 1.5 km away.
Official sources told Dawn that the city managers, allegedly in league with the land usurpers, were not actively launching crackdown against the encroachers for getting the graveyard back.
An official, on condition of anonymity, said the Punjab government has been criticising “others” for not implementing the SC verdicts, but “here in Rawalpindi the local administration is not interested in enforcing the SC order and get the graveyard back.”
Despite repeated attempts DCO Rawalpindi Saqib Zafar could not be contacted. But one of his assistants, Tanveer, said the issue was related to the provincial government. He added that the revenue affairs were now controlled by the provincial government as the seat of EDO-Revenue has been abolished.
Sajid Mohammad Mehmood, the petitioner who went to the Supreme Court, said Rawalpinid’s administration was committing contempt of court by not purging the graveyard of encroachers. “Why the authorities are so afraid of few land grabbers and oblivious to the Supreme Court directives.”