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Shahi Masjid Chitral land leased out dubiously

Shahi Masjid Chitral land leased out dubiouslyInvestigation by this correspondent showed that the land worth millions of rupees was given on a 200 rupees monthly rent only. Former president Ziaul Haq purchased a piece of land for the Shahi Masjid where under a plan a committee would construct shops and its rent would be spent on the mosque’s repair, maintenance and renovation. This land was given to Abdul Karim on lease by Sahibuz Zaman, the then Khateeb of the mosque (father of present Khateeb Khaleequz Zaman). Although as a rule he was not authorized because on behalf of Auqaf Department only the deputy commissioner could lease the land, the khateeb struck the deal in a shadowy manner. Sahib Zaman entered into an agreement with Haji Abdul Karim under which the rent would not be increased and start when the construction of the market was complete. He also wrote in the agreement that this land will remain in the possession of Karim for ever and nobody would make a claim on it or can take it back. The wording of the agreement was illegal and based on injustice but nobody took notice at that time. Haji Karim told this scribe that the land was near his property and he was a claimant to it and that is why he got it on lease. “Sahib Zaman has given me in writing that the land will remain in my possession till Qiamat (Day of Judgment),” he added. Some people approached the court at that time challenging the low rent for such a large piece of land where more than one dozen shops have been constructed in the form of a plaza. It’s rent was then increased to Rs800 but Abdul Karim alias Kiki Haji filed an appeal with the court requesting for review. And ultimately it was fixed at Rs400 once again but nobody raised the issue about the agreement that how a Khateeb can give state property to a party for ever? After that, no case was filed and the owner of the land did not approach the High Court for a writ petition. When this scribe met some of the shopkeepers who have got the shops on rent in this plaza of Shahi Masjid they said they paid 6,000 to 8,000 rupees per shop for a month and there are more than one dozen shops who were given to outsiders. Haji Abdul Karim is collecting thousands of rupees per month from these shops but pays only Rs400 to Shahi Masjid. While the present Khateeb is collecting charity for the Masjid maintenance and firewood for heating water, his  father gave his land worth millions of rupees to a man only on 200 rupees per month lease which was increased to 400 later. Recently, Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti donated Rs37.187 million for renovation of the mosque but the contractor damaged one of its minarets. When a local lawyer Altaf Gohar was contacted to seek his comment on the agreement giving the land on lease for ever, he said it was totally illegal and should be challenged in Peshawar High Court. Social and political circles of Chitral  have demanded of the provincial government to conduct an inquiry and cancel the  lease agreement so that the land can be returned to the Masjid committee and its rent utilized for the maintenance of the building. Reporting: Gul Hamaad Farooqi]]>

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