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July 1, 2018

Exploits of ‘Patwari’ leave all perplexed


July 1, 2018

Islamabad : How strong is the institution of ‘Patwari’ in our ‘Revenue Department’ could be judged by a simple case in which a ‘Patwari’ quietly changed over a 100 years old status of a piece of land from an un-inhabitable hillock to be used only as pasture for animals and for acquiring fuel wood by a joint community of village Chirrah to private ownership and fit to develop as a housing scheme.

This intriguing manipulation was done by the one Mr Tanveer, the ‘Patwari’ in the ‘Revenue Department’ of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). Interesting part is that Mr Tanveer, who belonged to Hazara, joined the ICT Revenue Department on deputation and has already been repatriated to his parent department in wake of the orders issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The piece of land measuring 2,121 kanal in village Chirrah in the suburbs of Islamabad was declared a pasture and the forest/shrubbery thereupon to be used to acquire firewood during the British rule in the sub-continent back in 1905 under the ‘Bandobast’, a system introduced by Raja Todar Mal during the Mughal King Akbar era. The system was adopted by the British and the same is still followed for maintaining land records and its use.

The third ‘Bandobast’, to be conducted after every 50 years, was due to be held in the year 2005-6 but is still not conducted. The ICT Patwari Tanveer, probably, took advantage of this delay in conducting ‘Bandobast’ on time and marked the whole hillock, which for over 100 years was declared as a pasture and forest for the residents of the adjacent village Chirrah, as private ownership of Munir son of Shabbir resident of Chapar Chirrah Islamabad, Zulqarnain Haider son of Mubaras, resident of Mira Chirrah, Islamabad and Haroon Rasheed son of Mohammad Sharif, resident of Karor, Rawalpindi

The local people of village Chirrah came to know about the ‘fraudulent change of status of the land’ by the Patwari when they saw a private housing society turning up in the area by the name of ‘Shaheen Town Phase-IV’ and a concerned resident, Aamir Zaman son of Nasir Mehmood, approached the Deputy Additional Commissioner (Revenue) Islamabad to take notice of the situation, reverse the decision of the ‘Patwari and restore the land use of the area and take appropriate action against the ‘Patwari’.

All this may sound not a big deal but the estimated value of this tiny manipulation in ‘land record’ amounts to well over Rs4 billion to the national exchequer besides depriving the local people of the village Chirrah of their basic rights to use the land as pasture for grazing their livestock and acquire firewood to use as fuel to keep their hearth warm.

The Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) has already received an inquiry report submitted by the Assistant Commissioner (City) who, after exhaustive inquiry, has clearly recommended that:

“(a) The revenue officers who have entered possession of specific people going against the ‘wajib ul arz’ and also allowed nature of land to be changed may be proceeded (disciplinary and penal) against as per law and the people whose possession has been entered by also be proceeded against as per law and (b) The existing entities of the possession of specific people in Revenue Record of the Khasra number 1123 may be corrected/abolished within a week time”. The Assistant Commissioner (City) Hassan Waqar Cheema has sent his inquiry report to the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) on 30th April, 2018 but file is still lying pending somewhere in the Revenue Department and no action on the recommendations made by the AC (City) have been taken.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Cell of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), responding to an application submitted by Alam Zaib son of Lambardar Mohammad Ali, has also filed a ‘First Information Report’ (FIR) in the case but this could not be ascertained if they have made any progress in their investigations in this case.

The Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) Islamabad, when contacted confirmed having received the inquiry report from the Assistant Commissioner (City), Hassan Waqar Cheema. “Yes. The case is with me and is being heard. There are two parties involved in this case. During the past hearings one party is appearing while the other is constantly abstaining. If the second party continued to abstain from hearing in the case I would be deciding the case ex-parte in the next hearing,” the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) told this scribe.

When the main culprit in the case, the ‘Patwari’, Mr Tanveer, was contacted for his version, he said that he has only validated the possession of the land in the name of the persons who demanded for it and has not transferred the land in their names. Interestingly, Naseer Ahmed, the ‘Gardawar’ involved in the matter has forgotten the whole case and expressed complete ignorance. “I can’t recall as to what happened in this case and what I did. I have to look into the records to know the facts and as to what had happened in this matter,” Naseer Ahmed ‘Gardawar’ told this scribe when approached for his comments.

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