Property dispute: KU foils builders' attempt to grab its land

Varsity officials claim the property belongs to KU, builders’ association claims otherwise

Yusra Salim July 05, 2015


A dispute on a property located adjacent to Bhayani Heights near the Maskan gate of the University of Karachi (KU) broke out on Sunday morning when labourers associated with Rufi builders and developers started construction work on the said land.  The KU's campus security advisor claims it to be the varsity's property.

"The land is property of the KU and these builders have been trying to encroach upon it since 2010," said campus security officer Dr Muhammad Zubair. "Back then too, they had attempted to encroach the property and claimed it to be theirs," he recalled, adding that the varsity's security staff had to take strict action against the builders at that time. "We built a boundary wall around the plot and put up a gate so no one would try and do this again," said Dr Zubair. The builders, however, have proved to be quite persistent.

"We were informed by one of our security guards that some labourers had broken the wall and gate of the plot and started construction work," he explaining, narrating how he came to know about the latest attempt to grab the land on Sunday morning. "I rushed to the spot accompanied by several security guards, where we saw over a dozen labourers hard at work."

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When Dr Zubair questioned the workers about why they were carrying out construction work on the varsity's land, one of the labourers presented a court statement and some legal documents, claiming they had permission to work on the land as it belonged to Rufi builders. Dr Zubair claimed, however, that the documents were fake and that the land was KU's property.

Conflicting versions

On the other hand, the chairperson of the Association of Builders And Developers of Pakistan (ABAD), Junaid Taloo, claimed that the dispute over this land between the KU and the builders was not new. Rather, it was a 20-year-old dispute stemming from when the land was given to the KU on auction for parking areas and other purposes.  "Building a boundary wall doesn't make you the owner of any property," he said, regarding the KU's claims.

"There are several cases that have been going on since years regarding the possessions of the KU," Taloo told The Express Tribune. Similar to the plot near Maskan Chowrangi, there were several others in Blocks 1 and 2 that were allotted to the varsity on a temporary basis around 20 years ago, he said, adding that the varsity still claimed those plots to be their property today.

Taloo clarified that the revenue department has the records for every plot. "The land which the KU claims to be its property is more than the land they were initially allotted," he alleged. "This problem is not just with one builder but several others have their lands near the university and also have proof that the land legally belongs to them," he claimed. "The university doesn't have any legal proof that the property actually belongs to them."

Police intervention

"The land has been evacuated for the time being," Mobina Town SHO Zafar Abbas told The Express Tribune. It remains unclear, however, as to who is its rightful owner.

A meeting has been called today (Monday) between the university's administration and representatives of the Rufi builders to sort out the matter. "Representatives of the Rufi builders paid us a visit when the issue arose in the morning and showed all the necessary documents that prove their ownership," said SHO Abbas, who has listened to the versions of both the parties.

The varsity's security officer had demanded law enforcers to take strict action against the land grabbers and declare the land as property of the KU, so that no one tries to encroach upon it in the future.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2015.