30 years and counting: Couple struggles to get its land back despite court’s favour

Published: April 5, 2012

The land was occupied by Allah Juriyo Pitafi in the 1970s and the owner murdered.

KARACHI: Muhammad Rahim and Sikana have spent more than three decades protesting against Allah Juriyo Pitafi who occupied their land in Badin and had Rahim’s father murdered.

For the last 2.5 years the Karachi Press Club has been their home. For the most part they are fine except for when some protests get violent.  “We have no other problem but shelling and baton charge by the police makes it difficult.”

Rahim and Sakina carry a bunch of applications, court orders and inquiry letters with them as proof and still hope that they might be able to retrieve their land which was usurped in the 1970s.

“They are original documents of our land,” said 55-year-old Rahim.  “My father gave the land to Allah Juriyo Pitafi [an influential man of their area] on a two-year lease at Rs16,000, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was prime minister.”

Not only the land was occupied but Rahim’s father was also caught and killed. “I still remember the days when Justice Abdul Hamid Dogar gave the decision in my father’s favour when he was judge in Hyderabad,” he says. “My father was shot dead just a few days after the verdict was passed.” The revenue record says that my father is still the owner of the land. “Even the mukhtiarkar office approaches us for dhal (land tax) every year.”

After the death of his father, Rahim left his hometown, Shafi Muhammad Nautikani village, near Matli in Badin and began to approach departments concerned to try and get his land back. Since then he has lived where his struggle has taken him. “The unremitting court hearings and departmental inquiries in Karachi compelled me to live here in a rented house,” he says. “I live here so that I can get my land back. I could not afford the rent of Rs6,000. Someone suggested that I record my protest in front of the media and here I am.”

Rahim says he also approached the former home minister, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, and minister for human rights, Nadia Gabol, but it was in vain.

Rahim’s wife, Sakina, has kept all the visiting cards of the people who have promised them help while they have been in Karachi. The cards are of leaders from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz and Quaid-e-Azam. “We usually vote for the PPP but will now vote for those who help us.”

The couple has also gone to NGOs to ask for help but nothing has come out of it either. Like many others they desperately wait for the chief justice to intervene and also claim that someone has filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan for their cause.

PPP MPA Imdad Pitafi, who belongs to the same constituency as Rahim and Sakina, said that neither did he know about the matter nor anyone approached him.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2012.

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