KARACHI: The family of three was at the Karachi Press Club on Monday along with their lawyer to tell their story to the media. They were landlords but were forced to beg with both palms joined together to be given back what is rightfully theirs. Kailash Kumar and his aging parents, who belong to the Hindu minority, own 238 acres of agricultural land in Qambar-Shahdadkot, but they don’t have possession of their land even though the courts have ruled in their favour.
“Our land has been in the illegal procession of the area’s feudal lords, who have turned into land mafia, for the last 46 years. I’m the third generation fighting for it. It is legally all mine, I’m its legal heir. My name is also there on the government revenue records,” said Kailash.
“My family has been fighting court battles for the last 46 years and we have won our cases in the lower courts, the Sindh High Court as well as the Supreme Court of Pakistan. There was also a civil suit filed against us in 1969, which stretched to 2015 when the Supreme Court decided in our favour. But alas, the local DCs never helped us regain possession of our land. Instead, it was illegally occupied again by the same people,” Kailash informed, adding that the people they are up against are Brohis and Magsis.
“Now, the land mafia is threatening our family. They are telling us to leave this country and go to India. One of my uncles got so scared that he actually moved to India. But we only moved to Karachi,” he said.
“The land is our ancestral property. It is worth millions of rupees but we are leading a life of misery here. We don’t own a house, we don’t even own a car. We were only able to buy a motorcycle as a means of conveyance,” he said.
Kailash’s mother Suri Bai became emotional while talking. “Please help us get back what is rightfully ours. We are getting death threats all the time. Please protect us from these criminals. And if anything were to happen to us, please know that the same land mafia and feudal lords are behind our deaths,” she said.
Kailash’s father D.L. Das also spoke about their situation in Sindhi.
Providing more background regarding the case, the family’s attorney Barrister Akhtar Hussain Jabbar said that it all began with a forced sale deed made in the name of Kailash’s grandfather in 1963. But the grandfather did not want to sell his land, and wanted the deed cancelled for which he also went to court and won.
“He had approached the Larkana civil court and won his case in 1969. The family also won their case in the high court, and again in the Supreme Court as the sale deed was cancelled during chief justice Saqib Nisar’s time. There were also notices published in the newspapers inviting any claims which also didn’t come up. But then as the land was handed over to them by the Supreme Court, and they returned to Qambar-Shahdadkot, they found that it was illegally repossessed by the very same people who had lost the sale deed cases against them,” he explained.
“Now the same people are also filing further civil suits against Kailash and his family. Currently, there are four such cases against them. Someone is claiming that 60 acres of the land is his, someone is after 20 acres. But why is a civil court or civil judge even taking a case that has already been won even in the highest court of the country?” he asked.
The family’s attorney also pointed to the fact that since 1963, at least 25 per cent of the money earned from the land yield also belongs to Kailash and his family though they have been given nothing. “Instead, they are being forced to sell land that is worth Rs1,200,000 to 1,400,000 an acre for peanuts,” he said.
“We have also tried speaking to the area’s AC and DC but they also seem to be siding with the feudal lords. The local MPAs and MNAs are also with them. In such a situation of hopelessness, and fearing for his life, Kailash’s uncle Jawaharlal threw in the towel and moved to India as he was being told to do by the land mafia. Now he wants to call a press conference in that county regarding the matter though Kailash and his father are trying their best to convince him not to do so.
“Because if that were to happen, Pakistan’s image will be hurt as India will make this country look like they have no room for minorities and are unjust to them,” he said.
“So we appeal to the president of Pakistan, the prime minister, the army chief, the chief justice of Pakistan to kindly intervene and return to these landowners what is rightfully theirs.”
Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2021