Dawn News

KARACHI, Aug 11: Noted writer and poet of Sindhi Shamsherul Haideri, who died here on Friday, was buried in the Chowkundi graveyard, a protected historical site where fresh burials are banned, it emerged on Saturday.

According to sources, the Chowkundi necropolis, situated on the outskirts of the city off the National Highway, is protected under the Antiquities Act of 1975, which prohibits burials at the site and prescribes long prison terms and heavy fines for violators.

The Sindh culture department, the custodian of the graveyard, has divergent views on the issue. As secretary Aziz Uquaily could not be approached on his cellphone despite repeated attempts, additional secretary of the department Ashfaq Moosvi confirmed that Chowkundi was a protected site, but said Mr Haideri’s burial must have been allowed by the department’s archeology director Qasim Ali Qasim.

When asked, Mr Qasim said neither was there any provision for giving permission or no-objection certificates for burial in the graveyard nor was any sought.

The sources said the funeral procession of Mr Haideri came to the Chowkundi graveyard on Friday evening and he was buried next to Tajal Bewas, another literary figure who was buried in the Chowkundi graveyard a few years back. Despite the issue regarding the illegality being highlighted by the media at that time, no action was taken by the department.

However, it created an uproar in the media when a close relative of Sindh Assembly Secretary Hadi Bux Buriro was buried in the Chowkundi graveyard and the then Sindh antiquities minister Makhdoom Jameel-ul-Zaman allotted for burial a piece of land in the Chowkundi graveyard. Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah took notice of the illegal acts and ordered an inquiry into the matter.

A senior bureaucrat, Subhan Memon, was told to investigate it and submit a report, which is yet to be made public despite the passage of more than a year.

The sources said that earlier the provinces had been demanding that the historical sties be given to them as the federal government cared little for them. However, the practice shows that certain violations carried on earlier continue under the province’s charge also. The only difference seen is that earlier the federal government did not allot anybody any plot of land for burial in a protected site as was done by Sindh minister Makhdoom Jameel.

Influential people have been burying their dear ones in historical graveyards protected under the law. Numerous police officials and other influential people have been buried in the Mirs’ Tombs, a protected site under the act, in Hyderabad.

Experts said unless stern punitive action was taken against violators, influential people would continue to flout the law with impunity.

Chowkundi tombs are commonly believed to be the burial site for the Jokhio and Baloch tribes, built from the 15th to 18th centuries.

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