SC seeks report on ‘grab’ of farmland in Swat

Published: January 13, 2012

Abdul Ghaffar says army has accused him of being a terrorist. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the secretary of defence to submit a report on the status of a petitioner who claims that the army refused to release his land on his return to Swat following operation ‘Rah-i-Raast’.

Petitioner Abdul Ghaffar Khan said he owns 500 kanals of agriculture land and gardens in Kota, Barikot tehsil, Swat district.

He added that he was declared a terrorist and denied access to his ancestral agriculture land and gardens, which he left behind as an internally displaced person.

The petitioner further said that neither he nor his family members were being allowed to enter their house, conduct their business or maintain their orchard, which includes 3,000 trees of peach, apricot and plums.

The District Officer Revenue in Swat submitted a report to the court, denying that the army had ever occupied Ghaffar’s land. The report further claimed that the petitioner and his son were terrorists.

A four-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, directed the defence secretary to explain the facts and inform the court whether the petitioner was a terrorist or not.

The petitioner’s counsel Sanaullah Zahid denied that his client was a terrorist and claimed that on December 2011 some of his property had been leased out through an auction.

He said his client had been a member of the local chapter of the Jamaat-e-Islami and had later become the president of the Kissan Board District Swat. He was also twice elected as member union council and later as chairman union council Moosa Khel.

The petitioner said that his son, Fawad Ali, was a doctor and ran a hospital owned by an NGO called ‘Islamic Relief International’ in Bagh, Azad Kashmir, for charity.

While most IDPs have returned to their native homes, the Khan Koori race is, unfortunately, still being deprived of returning to their ancestral towns, Ghaffar added.

He further said that his other son, Muhammad Saleem’s brother-in-law, commander Younas, was accused of anti-state activities and was wanted by the authorities. Younas, he added, had been killed and his family was never in contact with him.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2012.

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