Last-ditch appeal: Top QAU official writes to cabinet about ‘land-grabbing’

Accuses former senate chairman of building illegal road; also writing letter to PM


Asma Ghani November 02, 2016
PHOTO: Wikipedia

ISLAMABAD: The Vice Chancellor of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) has written an open letter to all members of the Federal Cabinet to draw attention to the illegal occupation of varsity land and the shrinking of its estate on all sides by land-grabbing elements, including a former Senate chairman.

Sources said that a complete dossier is being prepared and a separate confidential letter will be sent to the prime minister within the next two days.

On Sunday, QAU spokesperson Dr Ilhan Niaz shared with the media that former Senate chairman Nayyar Bukhari had allegedly furthered his encroachment of QAU land.

A road of slightly over two kilometres is being constructed behind a forested area within the university. The road starts from the senator’s house and links it  to the main road. Sources said the house itself is built on university land, and now, further encroachments have been recorded. The university will be registering formal complaints with the ICT Administration and other authorities.

On Monday, Vice-Chancellor Dr Javed Ashraf wrote a letter to the cabinet, says that QAU is being contracted on multiple fronts by land grabbers.

“CDA Land adjacent to QAU, along 3rd Avenue and Diplomatic Enclave, has been illegally occupied, and, despite QAU repeatedly requesting action against these elements, which also pose a risk to the enclave, no effective action has been forthcoming,” it reads.

Further, within QAU estate, it says, there are small illegal settlements that are slowly growing. QAU simply does not have the capacity to remove these elements and “our appeals to the ICT and CDA, while politely entertained, are invariably ignored”.

The letter claims that Bukhari has also encroached on QAU land from the Bhara Kahu side, and on October 30, 2016, fresh encroachments were discovered and verified. Although estimates vary, in 2014, the Prime Minister’s office believed that some 200 acres of QAU land were under the occupation of various land grabbers. The value of that land, at market rates, would run into hundreds of millions, if not billions of rupees.

The tragedy is compounded by the fact that this happens to be the 50th Year of QAU (1967-2017) and rather than requesting the Government for a special package for QAU, all that we ask is that the Government help QAU retain possession of that which by law and right belongs to it anyway, the VC appealed.

The university has paid for 1,709 acres of land, but only 1,507 have been handed over to the varsity, said Dr Ilhan.

For the last 26 years, the CDA and ICT have refused to demarcate varsity land. “QAU is in a fight for its life. Another five to 10 years and you will not have a university campus. Rather, there will be a university within a sprawling slum”.

CDA officials however, in a response said that the authority will take action against the encroachers to help vacate the varsity land.

Bukhari refutes allegations

After reading the letter, The Express Tribune got in touch with Bukhari, who strongly refuted the allegations of the varsity. “This was my land and was transferred to  my son’s name. Why don’t they go to revenue authorities and check the records before leveling such allegations,” he said.

In 2006, he said, when “I started construction on my house, the university leveled the same allegations. After examining the area, representatives of Bhara Kahu Police Station, the university, the CDA, and the ICT Administration decided in a combined meeting that the land belonged to us. “I have all the papers and documentary proof with me and I am also ready to confront the university and CADD Minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary at any forum to prove this”.

He added that there are eight other houses in the area and the university is only targeting him because he is “a prominent political personality”. He claimed that he would sue the varsity.

Students, staff to protest

The QAU Academic Staff Association and the Employees Welfare Association have also been preparing to protest against the illegal occupation of QAU land.

Meanwhile, the Quaid-e-Azam University Alumni Association has also decided to form a delegation of its senior members in order to meet members of the federal cabinet, parliamentarians, and senior government officials to draw attention to increasing encroachment of university land.

QAU Alumni Association Secretary General Murtaza Noor said on Tuesday that QAU alumni have unanimous views that any encroachment would be unacceptable.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2016.

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