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Police told to stop sand, gravel removal

KARACHI, Nov 14: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday directed police to ensure that sand and gravel were not removed illegally from the Malir river bed and its adjoining areas.

A division bench headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar also directed the media to keep a watchful eye on the river bed and other areas where illegal removal or digging of ‘raiti and bajri’ was taking place and publicise it “so that such illegality may be brought to the notice of the court for taking cognisance and for appropriate orders”.

The bench was seized with the petition of Mohammed Siddiqui, a resident of village Dur Mohammed Goth, Darsano Chano, against the illegal digging of earth and removal of sand and gravel in his village and surrounding areas including Usman Goth, Deh Bazu, Deh Malh, Deh Thno, Deh Khokhar and Deh Sango, all situated on the river bank.

He impleaded the home secretary, secretary and director-general of mines and mineral department, deputy inspector general of police (east), SP of Gadap, SHO of the mines and mineral police station and Memon Goth SHO and alleged that the earth was being removed under the patronage of the local police.

Additional Advocate General Shafi Memon filed comments of the SP Gadap and the two SHOs, who denied the allegations, submitting that sand and gravel were not being removed within their respective jurisdictions.

The court observed: “However, it is a matter of common knowledge that raiti/bajri [sand and gravel], as alleged by the petitioner, is being removed in large quantities on a daily basis and that too under the patronage of the local police”.

The bench directed the SHOs and other police officials concerned to ensure that under no circumstances removal of earth was allowed “or else police officials shall be dealt with sternly and court may also order criminal prosecution of the SHOs and all those who may be found involved or indolent in the matter”.

Ashura venue case

Another division bench headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam disposed of a petition against the non-issuance of a no-objection certificate for reservation of Nishtar Park for ‘markazi majalis-i-aza’ or main Ashura procession on the ninth and 10th of Muharram after the additional inspector-general of police informed the court that the necessary orders would be passed within two days.

The petition was filed by Advocate Kazim Abidi, president of the Pak Muharram Association (PMA), the organiser of the Ashura procession, seeking court’s direction to the commissioner and other respondents to issue permission for majalis (mourning meetings) from the 29th of Zilhaj (Nov 15) to the 10th of Muharram under Article 120 (3) of the Police Order 2002.

The additional IG stated that the permission would be granted within two days after examining the modalities and getting clearance from all other allied and relevant law-enforcement agencies.

Temple case

A division bench headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar disposed of a contempt of court application against Sindh Excise and Taxation Minister Mukesh Chawla and acting secretary of the Hindu Panchayat for willfully defying a court order regarding smooth access to the Shri Laxmi Narayan Mandir, a Hindu temple believed to have been constructed about 200 years ago at the Native Jetty bridge.

Advocate Jhamat Jethandad appeared on behalf of the minister and the Panchayat secretary and submitted that they had no intention of blocking access from the Mandir to the sea.

He also stated that the construction of staircase at the temple would be in consonance with the court’s earlier order and it would be completed within one month.