The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday restrained authorities from removing a private graveyard in Islamabad that falls inside the route marked for the metro bus project.
Raja Farid Khan and Raja Kaleem Khan, the owners of the graveyard, had petitioned the court to restrain the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) from damaging their ancestral graveyard, located on a greenbelt on 9th Avenue in Sector I-8/1.
The petitioners’ counsel, Shakeel Abbasi, informed the court that the family had been given exemption for the graveyard by the CDA in 1960.
The one kanal, one marla plot is populated by 20 graves.
In 1945, the petitioners’ grandfather Raja Gulab Khan became the first person to be buried there, and the recent-most burial was of the petitioners’ father, Raja Ghulam Hussain, in April 2013.
The authority had planned to remove the graves to clear the bus route, while the petitioners had requested that the court divert the route to save the graveyard.
Hearing the case, IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui remarked that he will not allow desecration of the graves.
The court granted a stay order and sought replies from Rawalpindi Commissioner Zahid Saeed, who is also the project director, Islamabad Chief Commissioner Jawad Paul, and Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Maroof Afzal in the next hearing.
The case was then adjourned till a date to be set by the IHC registrar’s office.
In the previous hearing, CDA Municipal Administration Director Hamza Shafqat had said that if there was a family graveyard along the route, the authority could not remove it, although it had restrained the owners from burying their dead in the graveyard.
Rawalpindi Commissioner Zahid Saeed had claimed that he had already discussed the issue with CDA Chairman Afzal, who had assured him of his support.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2014.
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