Sindh govt, FIA at loggerheads over raid on Civic Centre

Published August 1, 2015
Provincial govt alleges FIA of ‘transgressing’ its powers by raiding the KMC offices. —PPI/File
Provincial govt alleges FIA of ‘transgressing’ its powers by raiding the KMC offices. —PPI/File

KARACHI: Sindh Government and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) are at loggerheads over the latter’s recent raid on Civic Centre to seize land record pertaining to ‘China-cutting’ in the city, according to officials and documents obtained by Dawn on Friday.

Sindh’s Local Government Department wrote a letter to the FIA in this regard, contending that the FIA has ‘transgressed’ its powers by raiding the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) offices and warned it of initiating ‘criminal and civil proceedings’ if the seized land record was not returned.

Read: Rangers, FIA seize land record during raid at Civic Centre‏.

The FIA director, Shahid Hayat, in his reply argued that they seized the land record to probe the land scam with proper procedure and added that any effort to ‘hamper’ the probe would be likely to ‘benefit’ the criminals involved in this land scam.

Hayat while talking to Dawn confirmed the correspondence between the Sindh government and FIA over the issue.

According to the Local Government’s letter, written by deputy secretary Zahid Khemtio to the director FIA on July 29, the federal authority raided offices of the KMC’s land department on July 24 with ‘no prior information’ and even ‘after office hours.’

The letter, referring to the relevant section of FIA Act of 1974, argued that the jurisdiction of the FIA was confined to matters pertaining to the federal government — but the KMC was not part of the federal govt.

The letter by the Sindh government observed that the FIA, by confiscating the entire original record of KMC’s land department from the ‘10th floor’ of the Civic Centre, committed an ‘arbitrary exercise’ and ‘abuse of power’.

“The act of unilaterally raiding an office of a government department and taking away the entire original record is contrary to law and is a blatant excess of authority committed by the FIA officials,” said the deputy secretary’s letter.

“The ill intent of the FIA officials is evident from the fact that instead of making an inventory and making copies of the said record, original files were taken away in an illegal and unlawful manner,” added the letter.

The Sindh government warned the FIA that if the seized land record was not returned within three days, they may initiate criminal as well as civil proceedings against the FIA officials.

FIA's response

Hayat in his response to the Sindh government’s letter pointed out that the FIA was engaged in a formal enquiry into funding of criminal activities in Karachi, which has its origin in the illegal sale and purchase of land— a practice also known as ‘China-cutting.’

He said the federal agency had expected that the KMC and the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) would work shoulder-to-shoulder with the FIA and assist in completion of the enquiry, which was purely in “public interest.”

“But, regrettably, instead of appreciating genuine efforts of FIA, an attempt is being made to hamper the legal proceedings under the FIA Act of 1974,” Hayat said in a letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.

It added that KMC was bound under law to provide assistance and information to FIA for completion of the enquiry on merit.

“If the said enquiry proceedings are in anyway hampered, it would benefit none other than the criminals involved in these nefarious activities,” warned the FIA.

The letter said that FIA’s Counter-Terrorism Wing has registered Enquiry (No. 11/2015) and seized relevant land record under “proper seizure means.”

In the letter the FIA said an enquiry has been registered on the basis of interrogation of various accused persons who disclosed that they remained involved in the menace of land grabbing and China-cutting in different areas of Karachi on government-owned amenity plots (play grounds, parks, land of mosques etc.) and built properties owned by KDA, KMC and Board of Revenue.

“The culprits also disclosed that huge amounts have been shared/transferred to activists of a few political parties of Karachi and the said funds were in fact used for criminal and terrorist activities in Karachi,” claimed the FIA letter.

It added that the accused persons also disclosed that they committed these criminal activities with the ‘active’ connivance of the KMC, KDA, Board of Revenue and other senior officers of the Sindh government such as “head of water board, Manzoor Qadir Kaka, former DG KBCA, Saif Abbas, Najam-uz-Zaman, Arif, Shakir Langra, Iqbal Nawaz, directors of land department of KDA, DSP Javed Abbas, and political workers/businessmen/builders/private persons namely Muhammad Ahsan alias Chunno Mamo, brother of Muhammad Anwar of MQM in London, Nooruddin Khumeni, Mohsin Shaikhani, Ilyas Sehgal, Hammad Siddiqui, Anjum Jameel Siddiqui, Zafar Faridi, Naeem Yousufzai etc.”

“Most of the record pertaining to China-cutting available in the KDA office is fake,” claims the letter. “The culprits during interrogation also disclosed transfer of funds so generated to Dubai/UAE and the UK through Hawala/Hundi as well as its use in terrorism financing and other criminal activities in Karachi.” The FIA director claimed that after necessary correspondence with concerned officials of the KMC through letters and telephone, the FIA team had visited Civic Centre with the officers ‘consent for provision of the land record.’ Thus, the FIA team seized the said record on the pointation of the KMC official concerned, the letter said.

“The FIA has acted strictly in accordance with the law and the offences under Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 do fall within the ambit of FIA for which the competent authority had issued necessary directions to FIA for conducting enquiry on merit,” argued the FIA Sindh chief.

Shahid Hayat pointed out that the FIA had seized record only from the 3rd floor of the Civic Centre, not from the 10th floor, and did so on the pointation of KDA officers who “admitted that the record was not part of official record of KDA rather it was prepared solely by the activists of a political party and it was exclusively controlled by those activists.”

It was also admitted by the officers and later backed by initial investigation that “the record was fraudulently prepared thus giving right of land to different people illegally for considerations, which did not become part of govt. treasury,” said the FIA.

“Evidence also came on record to suggest that money realized through these illegal activities was being laundered to Dubai/UAE and UK through banking as well as illegal channels, which also fall within the ambit of FIA,” argued the FIA director.

Shahid Hayat in his letter also suggested a joint team consisting of FIA, NAB, Sindh government’s Anti-Corruption Establishment and Sindh Local Govt. to investigate the scam, which initial investigations suggest involves “tens of billions of rupees.”

The FIA director opined that such a high-powered team will not only have the necessary expertise but will also go a long way in eradicating this menace once and for all.

“Intimidation of a public servant in order to force him to refrain from discharging his lawful duties constitutes offence punishable under section 6 (1)(m) of ATA 1997,” warned the FIA director, who asked the Sindh govt to withdraw its letter.

Meanwhile, on Friday night, chief minister’s spokesperson in a statement said there was no “controversy” between the Sindh government and the FIA. The spokesperson said the federal agency has agreed to return the seized land record.

“A working relationship has been developed under which, the FIA would seek prior permission from chief secretary or commissioner Karachi in the future,” claimed the chief minister’s spokesperson.



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