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ISLAMABAD: A three-judge Supreme Court bench which is hearing the Lal Masjid case, on Tuesday questioned the allotment of 20 kanals in H-11 for the construction of Jamia Hafsa.

The SC bench hearing the case is headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed and includes Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

The Lal Masjid conflict started with the Jamia Hafsa girls occupying the adjacent children’s library on Jan 22, 2007 in retaliation for the razing down of seven “unauthorised” mosques by the city administration.

No one has right to run a private organisation on CDA land, SC judge says

The confrontation built up in the succeeding month and erupted into armed clashes when a Ranger was killed on July 3, 2007 by gunfire from the mosque.

The army was called in the same night and special forces stormed the mosque after the suspension of water and electricity supply failed to subdue the alleged militants inside.

The SC however, summoned complete records along with the site plans, maps and pictures to ascertain the real picture. The court also directed the Islamabad police to furnish a separate report on missing children when the parents of two children complained before the court.

Earlier on Oct 2, 2007, the Islamabad administration and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had given an undertaking before SC for arranging for the construction of a new Jamia Hafsa building at an alternate site that was to contain a research centre and a hostel.

CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed, who is also currently Islamabad chief commissioner, told the court that in 2011, land was allotted in H-11/2 for the construction of a Jamia Hafsa in line with SC directions.

The CDA chief also informed the court that in 1970, CDA had allotted 9,533 yards, of which 206 yards went to the Jamia Hafsa, adjacent to Lal Masjid, which was operating under the Auqaf Department, and Maulana Abdullah was appointed the prayer leader who was succeeded by his son, Maulana Abdul Aziz.

Maulana Abdul Aziz was removed from the position in 2004 but he still held control of the mosque, the chairman said.

During previous hearings, SC was told that an agreement was reached between the then Islamabad Capital Territory chief commissioner, and Jamia Hafsa Principal Majida Younas, also known as Ume-i-Hissan and Maulana Abdul Aziz.

The Dec 29, 2011 agreement talks about handing over a large chunk of the land in H-11/4 which was earlier reserved for the National Institute of Science and Technology for the construction of a madressah, research centre and hostel for students of the Jamia Hafsa.

The land will be given in lieu of the comparatively small plot of land where the now demolished Jamia Hafsa building stood.

The agreement also required the parties not to utilize in any manner the entire 250.56 square yards previously used by Jamia Hafsa for any purpose except for a prayer ground of the Lal Masjid. It was also agreed that no party would claim any further monetary or land compensation in the future in any form.

Justice Isa recalled that in 2011, SC had ordered that the mosque will be built by CDA the ownership of which will remain with the authority.

No one has the right to run a private organisation on CDA land, Justice Ahmed observed, adding that if someone wants to develop a mosque, they should purchase land from the authority. He added that neither Islam nor the law allowed land grabbing.

Justice Ahmed also wondered why the agreement was finalised with Ume-i-Hissan since she was the wife of Maulana Aziz, a government employee.

Justice Ahsan regretted that the federal government did not have the capacity to free a mosque on state land in the capital city.

“Why is state land being doled out like this,” he asked.

Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood told the court the government had already complied with the earlier directions of the apex court by providing compensation.

Out of 103 people, the court was told, 11 personnel of security forces and three innocent passersby were killed along with 89 militants who were in a “state of war with the armed forces.”

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2019