KARACHI: Former Karachi University (KU) vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Wahab believes that encroachments on the varsity’s land take place due to the negligence of authorities and security of the university.
“Encroachments done by any builder – any shops constructed, any cabins set up or [encroachments] of any other kind – are due to the negligence of security authorities on campus,” said Dr Wahab. “They are all involved in this crime. I fought with the builders to release 400 acres from the allotted 1,200 acres of KU’s land when I was the VC.”
Dr Wahab asked why no one stops encroachers from illegal occupation when they start construction on the university’s land. “How can it be possible that three families along with their children were living in the campus on an occupied land for years and security officers were unaware?” he asked.
Meanwhile, campus security officer Dr Muhammad Zubair clarified that he took the charge only last year and has tried to get all such land released.
Three families were thrown out of KU when authorities, with the help of Rangers, conducted a crackdown against encroachments on the varsity’s land on July 22. The families were living in in three houses which were built on the land that was previously an office. “A small area of the room was there as an office, which was further encroached and about three more rooms were built and families were living,” said Dr Zubair. “We forcibly evacuated the area on Wednesday [July 22] without giving any prior notice to the families.”
Similarly, encroachers, who were trying to build the boundary wall around a mosque that was illegally constructed allegedly by the Jamia Binoria authorities, were stopped. “We are against the idea of demolishing the mosque but we need to find a solution to this problem,” said Zubair. He told The Express Tribune that the university administration might ask the authorities of Jamia Banoria to hand over the mosque to the varsity administration, so that the latter can look after the mosque built on its land.
Meanwhile, Jamia Binoria International’s principal Mufti Muhammad Naeem denied that they had built any mosque on KU land. “We have not built any mosque on the university’s land,” he said. “If anyone puts up Jamia Binoria’s board on any land and starts constructing a boundary wall, it is not our fault. We will say the same in court and will prove that we have not encroached upon their land.”
The third target of the crackdown was a generator of Pizza Hut restaurant that was operating on KU property. KU authorities issued a notice and asked Pizza Hut Karachi University branch to pay the rent for the generator, which they have placed on KU’s property, to the university administration instead of any unauthorised persons. “The restaurant has agreed upon the deal and said they will pay a rent of Rs120,000 to KU from next month,” said Zubair. “They claimed that they had been paying the rent to a department in KMC. Pizza Hut managers have also shown us receipts of rent that they have paid to KMC.”
On the other hand, a senior representative of Pizza Hut claimed that they were not paying any rent to any department and have removed their generator from KU land after getting the notice on Wednesday. “Pizza Hut didn’t know that the land belongs to the university,” he told The Express Tribune requesting anonymity. “We thought it was a normal street, which is why we unintentionally kept the generator there for the last three years.”
Meanwhile, KU authorities took the dispute to court a day after the crackdown. Construction work on the mosque was also stopped when security officers reached the site.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2015.