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Ex-minister among six convicted of illegal land transfer

Updated February 21, 2019

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Court issues perpetual warrants for arrest of ex-revenue board member.— Reuters/file
Court issues perpetual warrants for arrest of ex-revenue board member.— Reuters/file

PESHAWAR: An accountability court on Wednesday convicted former provincial minister Syed Murid Kazim and five revenue officers of illegally transferring precious government landin DI Khanto the Naval Families Rehabilitation Organisation (NFRO), and sentenced them to different prison terms.

Judge Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan pronounced that the prosecution had proved its case against the six accused facing trial for misusing authority.

However, as the land in question had already been returned to the government and no financial loss was incurred and therefore, the convicts were not fined and they were only awarded nominal prison terms.

The convicts included Syed Murid Kazim, who was the provincial revenue minister from 2008 to 2013, former district revenue officers of Dera Ismail Khan Qayyum Nawaz and Riaz Mohammad, assistant at Board of Revenue Gul Hassan, tehsildar Abdur Rasheed and patwari Mulazim Hussain.

Court issues perpetual warrants for arrest of ex-revenue board member

The courtalso declared proclaimed offender a former senior member of the board of revenue, Ahsanullah Mehsud, for not facing trial in the case and issued perpetual warrants for his arrest.

Murid Kazim was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on Aug 3, 2015, and was released on bail by Peshawar High Court on Sept 22, 2015. He had spent 51 days in detention. Similarly, the other convicts were arrested on different dates and were subsequently released by the high court on bail after remaining in the prison for different durations.

The sentences awarded to the convicts include 51 days each to Murid Kazim and Riaz Mohammad, 54 days each to Mulazim Hussain and Abdur Rasheed, 194 days to Gul Hassan and 195 days to Qayyum Nawaz.

The prosecution has said Murid Kazim in connivance with the other accused persons were involved in illegal transfer of valuable state land measuring 1,976 kanals situated in DI Khan as alternate land to NFRO in 2010 and subsequently unlawful transfer of 182 kanals residential land to officers/officials of the provincial revenue department as kickbacks.

In the case, the NAB executive board had authorised investigation on Jul 15, 2015, and decided to refer the case of retired commodore Sarfaraz Afzal of the NFRO to Pakistan Navy for appropriate action under rules.

The prosecution said the modus operandi adopted by suspects was that in 2009, the NFRO, Bahawalpur, director sent an application saying around 1,976 kanals land allotted to Pakistan Navy in DI Khan was not cultivable and therefore, it might be exchanged with better and cultivable land.

Under rules, the allotment of alternate land was the competency of chief minister of the province, but the then minister, Murid, being the revenue minister abused his authority and directed the Board of Revenue KP to put up note for allotment of alternate land to the NFRO Bahawalpur and gave illegal approval to the transfer of 1976 kanals land to the organisation.

Convict Riaz Mohammad allegedly included valuable commercial and residential properties in the proposal, which were later illegally allotted to officers and officials of the revenue department.

It claimed that Murid got allotted 50 kanals land in the name of his close associate, Syed Atta Hussain Shah.

Similarly, Gul Hassan allegedly got 33 kanals of land in DI Khan and Qayyum Nawaz got four kanals and three marlas in the heart of DI Khan city.

Mr Murid was elected independent MPA during the 2008 general elections from PK-68 DI Khan and subsequently he joined the Awami National Party.

He lost the 2013 general elections as the ANP nominee and the 2018’s as independent candidate.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2019