RAWALPINDI: The education department Rawalpindi has failed to retrieve school lands from the possession of the land mafia.

The land mafia has occupied lands belonging to 11 schools worth billions of rupees but the education department seems helpless to get it back.

According to education department’s documents, the institutions whose lands have been encroached upon are: Government Islamia Higher Secondary School No 1 opposite Liaqiat Bagh, Government Boys High School Pehlvi Faizabad, Government Christian Higher Secondary School Iqbal Road, Government Boys High School Islamia number 2 Circular Road, Government Dynis Higher Secondary School Saddar, Government High School Islamia number 4 Liaqiat Bagh, Government High School Faizul Islam number 1 Trunk Bazaar, DAV High School College Road and Shimla Islamia High School Raja Bazaar.

The lands of the Government Primary School Bohar Gran and Government High School Phagwari in Murree have been encroached upon by the local traders.

Sources in the education department said the land grabbers had been using the schools’ lands for the last many decades.

Even houses and shops have been built on the lands of the Christian Higher Secondary School and the Islamia Higher Secondary School No 1 and No 2.

“Being a government employee I can’t fight the powerful land grabbers, it is the responsibility of the department to get the schools’ land vacated,” said a school principal who wished not to be named.

However, Executive District Officer (education) Qazi Zahoorul Haq told Dawn that the alleged land grabbers had been dragging the occupation issue in various courts for the last many years.

“During the last a few years, we got the lands of dozens of schools vacated from the land grabbers. As far as the schools in questions are concerned, we cannot take action against the occupiers as the cases are pending in courts.” He said when one court rejected the claim of a land grabber, they moved another court to linger on the issue.

“We will not allow anyone to grab schools’ land. We have been pursuing all the cases vigorously,” the EDO said.

“The land grabbers have been enjoying the support of local politicians so the government employees cannot fight them. Traders have occupied a potion of the Shimla Islamia High School and started using it for commercial purposes.

The case is pending in the court for many years,” said Raja Aurangzeb, an office-bearer of the Punjab Teachers’ Union.

He said whenever any teacher or principal tried to get the land vacated, they had to face the wrath of the land grabber and politicians. “A couple of years back, the land grabbers lodged two FIRs registered against the principal of Government Christian School, Liaqiat Road,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Malik Muzafar, the principal of the Government Christian Higher Secondary School, said: “Last year, on the direction of the education department I tried to get the occupied land vacated from the grabbers. But instead of vacating the land, the land mafia managed to get a false FIR registered against me.” He added that the school owned 35 kanals of land but currently it was left with 26 kanals. A large portion of the land of Islamia High School No 1 has also been lost to the encroachers.

A number of teachers while talking to Dawn requested the education department to pursue the court cases vigorously and get the lands of the schools vacated.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2014

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