SUKKUR: The Sindh High Court, Sukkur bench, on Tuesday restrained the district administrations, irrigation department and others concerned from demolishing mosques in the ongoing anti-encroachment drive in the province to retrieve occupied lands of the department in pursuance of a relevant court order.

The bench was seized with a petition filed by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Sindh general secretary Maulana Rashid Mehmood Soomro, who personally appeared in court along with many other party leaders, and informed the bench that “more than 17 mosques have been demolished in the name of encroachment removal in the recently launched drive to retrieve irrigation department’s lands from encroachers”.

Govt told to arrange for reconstruction of all mosques demolished in the ongoing drive

The bench also directed the respondent officials to allow 15-day time to the managements of two major hospitals, standing on the department’s properties, to vacate them.

The earlier SHC order had asked the authorities concerned to remove all encroachments on the irrigation department’s lands in the province “immediately”. Accordingly, the deputy commissioner of Sukkur a couple of days ago had issued notices to the SSD and Hira hospitals, standing on Workshop Road, to immediately shift all patients, machinery, equipment etc to facilitate demolition of the buildings.

In its Tuesday order, the bench also directed the respondents to provide space and arrange for reconstruction of the demolished mosques. The bench remarked that it had not ordered demolition of mosques, therefore, the government should provide space and get the demolished mosques reconstructed. It further directed the respondents to refrain from demolishing any mosque in the anti-encroachment operation.

The JUI-F leader in his petition had also informed the bench that a number of patients had been receiving treatment at the two hospitals and it would not be easy for their managements to move them out immediately. Accepting the plea, the bench allowed time to the managements asking them to vacate the hospitals within a fortnight. It, however, ordered the authorities concerned to demolished all other unauthorised structures, including commercial buildings, immediately.

The court adjourned hearing of the petition to Dec 8.

Speaking to the media outside the court building and later addressing JUI-F workers at Madressah Jamia Hammadia, Manzilgah, Maulana Soomro expressed his pleasure over the court’s fresh order which, he said, was in line with the teachings of Islam and aspirations of the faithful. He hoped that the government would rebuild all the demolished mosques in pursuance of the court’s directives.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2020

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