KARACHI: The accused persons in 150 out of 196 land-grabbing cases registered during the past seven years were either acquitted or released for lack of evidence, it emerged on Friday.

While furnishing a statement and replies to the lawmakers’ verbal and written queries during the Question Hour session in Sindh Assembly, Reve­nue and Relief Minister Makhdoom Mehboob Zaman said that different groups and individuals were involved in illegal occupation of state land.

However, he did not disclose any name of land grabbers’ groups or individuals despite repeated demands by opposition members.

Giving details, he said 196 cases were registered against land grabbers during the past seven years. He said that the accused persons in 77 cases were acquitted by the special trial court, while 45 cases were declared ‘A’ class by the trial court due to the non-availability of names and proper bio-data of the accused persons.

The minister further informed that 27 cases against land grabbers were declared ‘C’ class by the trial court due to lack of evidence and one case was declared ‘B’ class by the trial court due to false allegations made by complainants.

He said that as many as 30 cases were still pending disposal in the trial court.

Responding to a question asked by Grand Democratic Alliance’s member Nusrat Saher Abbasi, the minister said that as many as 33,160 acres of illegally occupied state land in Sukkur and 5,536 acres in Larkana were retrieved by the anti-encroachment wing of the revenue department.

Replying to a verbal question, he said that the revenue department had its anti-encroachment force, which also conducted joint operations with police and Rangers against encroachers.

Responding to a question, the minister said that the funds and relief goods received from the provincial government were distributed to the drought and accidental fire victims and most deserving persons in Tharparkar from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018.

Sharing details with lawmakers, the minister said that 574,615 wheat bags, each containing 100kg, were distributed among as many affected families free of cost during the same period.

Besides, he said that 50,973 wheat bags of 50kg were distributed to female beneficiaries holding Benazir Income Support Programme cards from May 18, 2018 to June 30, 2018.

Replying to another question, he said that there were 138 tapas in district Dadu, while the sanctioned strength of tapedars was 162.

He said that at present the working strength of tapedars was 150, while 16 posts of tapedars were lying vacant.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2019