LAHORE: Of the 16 residents of Hussain Khanwala village nominated in 18 cases of child abuse registered with Ganda Singhwala police, 11 are directly or indirectly associated with a dispute over a 12-acre Irrigation Department property in the village.
In his petition pending hearing with the Lahore High Court, Zafar Iqbal, father of one Faheem Adnan, one of the suspects, has been allowed use of the rest house and attached land until a decision is reached in the plea. The LHC has also suspended a directive issued to the Kasur district officer (revenue) by the Border Area Committee (in Kasur range) seeking cancellation of the allotment of the rest house to Iqbal. The BAC had directed that instead the property deed for the rest house be registered in the name of Major (retd) Zahid Iqbal.
Documents available with The Express Tribune show that Zafar Iqbal had paid Rs2.5 million to the Irrigation Department after his bid for purchase of the rest house was accepted by the district privatisation board in 2010.
Zafar Iqbal believes his son had been wrongly implicated in the child abuse case. He says there are cell phone recordings of Mobeen Ghaznavi, who runs a non-government organisation in the village and has been representing the complainants in the child abuse cases in the media, threatening to take over the property. He says in public gatherings held in the village on May 28 and June 15, Ghaznavi had said that he would take the land and use it for the welfare of the village.
He says during these speeches Ghaznavi had also vowed to contest union council election against him. “He accused me of illegal possession of the rest house to malign my reputation in the village,” he says. A recording of one of Ghaznavi’s speeches (available with The Tribune) shows him promising to end the ‘illegal’ possession of the land and building a hospital and a park there. He is seen saying that he will build these facilities with assistance from some NGOs based in Islamabad.
Zafar Iqbal says he had bid for the property in partnership with Salim Akhtar Sherazi, Dr Shaukat and Chaudhry Riaz Bhutta. Sherazi and seven members of his family are among the 16 people nominated in the child abuse FIRs.
Khadim Hussain, Sherazi’s brother, says several members of his family have been implicated in the child abuse cases to pressure them into giving up their claim on the rest house. In an FIR registered with the police, Hussain has said that one of his brothers reported killed in a road accident was actually killed by the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) officials with support of men associated with complainants in one of the FIRs. The FIR says that the CIA police had taken away the deceased for questioning. It says they had brought the deceased back a day before his death to let him meet the family and take along his motorcycle (the initial police report about his death said that he was riding the bike when the accident took place).
Khadim Hussain also says that after the June 15 gathering in the village Sherazi had visited Ghaznavi and asked him to stop spreading falsehoods about the property. He says later Sherazi’s three nephews, nominated in the FIRs and arrested for interrogation, had also met Ghaznavi to discuss the issue.
Talking to The Tribune, Ghaznavi said child abuse cases should not be associated with the property dispute. He said he believed that Zafar Iqbal had illegally occupied the property. He said the property had been put up for auction three times and Zafar Iqbal’s bids were accepted everytime. However, he said the District Privatisation Board had later cancelled the auction so that he had no legal claim on the property.
Asked how, if the rest house remained a property of the Irrigation Department, he intends to use it for community welfare, he said he would take a delegation of villagers to the rightful owner and request them to donate the property to the village for the purpose. He said that if needed he would also meet the head of the Border Area Committee.
Ghaznavi said one of the three men who had pooled funds with Zafar Iqbal to bid for the property was already convinced of the desirability of his plans for the property. Riaz Bhutta stood with him at the June 15 gathering and supported his plans, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2015.