RAHIM YAR KHAN: 15 nominated and 100 unidentified residents of a slum settlement were booked in an FIR on Monday registered in Abe Hayat police station for obstructing officials from discharge of duties.
The residents of Jinnah Abadi had on Sunday demonstrated against the Revenue Department and the district police for undertaking a demolition operation during which they knocked down six houses in the settlement. The operation was halted in the wake of the protest.
The operation was initiated on the request of the Wildlife Department which claims ownership rights to the land. Rana Saleem, the deputy district officer (revenue), said that the land, which now contains more than a 100 houses and several vacant plots, was transferred to the Wildlife Department in 1997-98. He said that the settlers did not have legal rights to the land.
The residents, however, claimed that the land was allotted to them in 1986 by the then prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo and Punjab chief minister Nawaz Sharif. They showed an allotment letter to substantiate their claim. The letter, with a government of Pakistan seal on it, stated that the land has been allotted to 300 residents of the Jinnah Abadi.
A spokesperson of the Wildlife Department, Ayub Sabir, told The Express Tribune that the allotment letter in itself was no proof of ownership, “If an authority allots such a certificate, it should then be registered with the Revenue Department to hold any significance.”
He said that the matter would now be solved in a court of law. “The residents should produce the allotment letter in the court.”
The residents alleged that several notables of the area including the Abu Dhabi palace, which is a few miles from the settlement, were behind the demolition operation. They complain that when the wildlife department owns around 6.6 million acre land in Cholistan, there was no need to allot this patch to it.
The allotment letter states that seven-marla plots would be distributed among the residents of Jinanh Abadi. It allows for additional allotment for big families but bars a family from owning more than 2 kanals of land.
The area falls in the national assembly seat NA-196 and provincial assembly seat PP-284. Chaudary Javed Iqbal Warraich and Javed Hasandad Gujar the MNA and MPA, respectively, from the area belong to the Pakistan Peoples Party.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2010.