KARACHI: Around 200 students of Ideal Public School left the school on Thursday only to return on Friday to find the building reduced to rubble.
Students could be seen picking out their books, copies, chairs and blackboards from the debris and moving it to the safer side. The 15-room school was demolished by Karachi Development Authority (KDA) Thursday evening as, according to them, the school was running illegally and the land was encroached upon.
"The school got off at 1pm and the teachers left around 2pm yesterday," recalled the principal of the school, Naureen Maqbool. She added that she got a call from one of the teachers at the school, who said that some police vans and heavy machinery have arrived and are demolishing the school. Maqbool, whose father works at a company, runs the school along with her younger brother.
Jufelhurst school demolition: Controversy arises over inclusion of home in heritage list
The school, which was running at the same place for the past 18 months, provides the means of livelihood for 10 teachers. "We shifted here in 2016,” said the principal. “Before that, the school was in a rented place nearby." She also said that they had bought these four plots of 120 yards each from a KDA officer who told them that the plot is an ST (amenity) plot and only a school, park or hospital can be built on it.
"We bought the plot for Rs3.2 million in 2013 from Qureshi, who was at the KDA office located near the school, and he provided us with the documents," recalled Maqbool, adding that the documents, which were transferred to her, were from a woman, named Surraiya Naz, but she never met her directly.
Nevertheless, Maqbool failed to provide any sale and purchase receipts – all she had were a few photocopied documents of transfer of the land from Surraiya Naz.
Inquiry into Karachi school demolition initiated amid public outcry
The KDA officials never sent any notice, saying that the school is running illegally. A notification was sent by the assistant commissioner in August 2016, demanding the submission of all the documents to them, which, according to the principal, they did.
At around 6pm on Thursday, four police vans and some other private cars along with around 35 people came and demolished the school, narrated Uzma Kamran, who has been teaching English and social studies at the school for the last three years.
The school had class one till Matriculation but is not registered with the director of private schools. "We have regular students till class seven and only two students were there in our ninth standard," the principal said, adding that she never got the school registered.
SHO suspended as police begin probe of Karachi's heritage site demolition
The school was running on a very nominal fee with Rs300-Rs500 per student while the teachers were being paid around Rs5,000 per month.
Meanwhile, the director-general of KDA has released a statement, stating that the school was built on the land illegally and that they had sent notices to them earlier as well. In the statement, they also mentioned that people should contact the KDA land department office before buying or selling any plots to avoid fraud.
The demolition of the illegal school constructed on the encroached land of plot number 31/C/2 Korangi was conducted under the supervision of Abdul Qadir Mangi, who is the director of anti-encroachment.