Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 348 of 2021


As any regular reader of this weblog can assess, we move from logging one issue to the next - usually without much respite - and the following issue demanding our attention relates to 'Evacuee Properties' or 'Matrooka Jaidaad', as they are referred to in Urdu. 

Like most problems affecting the public here, they all either originate from the needless conflict imposed on this region in 1947 or relate to governance - usually the absence of it - and both aspects are usually inter-related or even inter-dependent, when searching for sustainable solutions.


Before we enter into specific details of the case I am focussing on; let's provide an overview of the status of the revenue department (Mehekma e Maal) in AJK, courtesy a video report by Dunya News (a prominent Pakistani media channel) on March the 1st 2018:

Let me provide a word for word translation of the video above:

Tazeem Yasin (presenting journalist)
According to jail records there are about 800 prisoners in Azad Kashmir, of which most prisoners have (allegedly) committed a crime - in relation to land disputes - and have landed behind bars in prison.  

Lawyer in Muzaffarabad
Our whole judicial system relies on cases generated by the land revenue department. Of which the basic framework begins with the patwari (lowest rung of land record keeping and collecting staff) system, that has held all the public of Azad Kashmir as hostage and I think that if there are reforms conducted within the revenue department, the courts would just have 20% of cases left to resolve.  

(Another) Lawyer in Muzaffarabad
Those who are in jail at the moment, those who are facing trial or serving sentences, most of them are comprised of those people who are embroiled in land disputes. Due to the revenue department, particularly due to their incorrect inputs on land record documents. There are murder cases, of which many are due to these incorrect/false inputs on land record documents.

Tazeem Yasin (presenting journalist)
According to judicial statistics too, the cause of most crimes committed is the weak and bogus system of the revenue department. 

Journalist in Muzaffarabad
Disputes over land have increased so much, that prisons are being filled and there are thousands of cases which transfer from one generation to the next. The fundamental cause is that written note of the patwari, which who knows developed in which era. 

Tazeem Yasin (presenting journalist)
In this modern information technology age we (are still) using a land revenue system developed in the 16th century, which has not been reformed yet. Whereas the hand of the criminal is equipped with modern tools to alter the land record.

As the revenue department's system is outdated and bogus, large financial scandals in Azad Kashmir are also emanating from this very department.

End of translation of video report......

Let's now move on to the private land of Ratan Singh (his widow Kishna Bi) and Sardar Singh (his widow Guru) of Naluchi in Muzaffarabad city, which so happens to be adjacent to the land of the 'Chatti Badshahat' (translated as 'sixth kingdom') in reference to Guru Gobind Singh, the 6th Guru of the Sikhs, after whom this Gurdwara is named.

In old(er) records the names Ratan Singh and Lakha Singh (both sons of Santoo Singh), Sardar Singh, Balwant Singh, Kishna Bi (widow of Ratan Singh), Guru (widow of Sardar Singh), Virnaam Singh, Jagat Singh, Bhagat Singh and Preetam Singh (all aforementioned four were sons of Hukam Singh) who had shared landholdings with Pakka Singh, all feature. Most, if not all of these Sikhs would have very likely had some devotional or even occupational connection with the 'sixth kingdom' of the Sikhs of Muzaffarabad:

We are in search of their descendants wherever they may be in the world, after being forced to flee in the 2 nation theory based 'operation' in 1947. Not least, so that they can help prevent the same tragedy happening to someone else, as happened to them in 1947. Everything does come full circle and humanity has a tradition of biting back.  

We know that Ratan Singh and Sardar Singh had children. We also know that the Sikhs living in the area of Naluchi and Gojra - in the vicinity of the gurdwara - were one of the first areas that the tribesmen from Pakistan's then North West Frontier region and beyond attacked around the 22nd of October 1947.

This particular issue has been brought to my attention by Malik Waseem, the son of Ghulam Qadir, whose father was Ahmed Malik, whose wife was Sarwar Jan, the paternal grandmother of Malik Waseem. After Waseem's paternal grandfather Ahmed Malik died in 1952 his paternal grandmother Sarwar Jan later married Sher Khan in 1958. The following is the original certificate confirming proprietary rights ('maalkana huqooq' in local parlance) to this family (to Sarwar Jan) of the land of Ratan Singh (and his descendants) on 25/06/1986:

The above certificate of ownership cannot be obtained without the following declaration form, which clarifies details of the land in question, construction on those lands, details of members of family with proprietary rights, date of initial habitation (occupancy) and date of being allotted:

Malik Waseem's family (grandparents) had migrated to Muzaffarabad from Kupwara in 1947, which came on the Indian side of the divide. Specifically they migrated from what is now Union Council Luderwan, in tehsil (subdivision) Handwara - which was then part of district Baramulla - and is now a part of district Kupwara. 

They began habitating on this land in 1949 since when they have been settled here, prior to which they had lived in a refugee camp, since they migrated in 1947. On 16/05/1968, Waseem's paternal grandmother Sarwar Jan was allotted 12 kanaal and 5 marla.

Here's the document (Allotment Chit in local parlance) confirming this:

Kanaal = a unit of area measuring 605 square yards (505.857 square metres) or 1/8th of an acre.
Marla =  there are 20 marlas in 1 Kanaal

Malik Waseem's paternal grandmother had over the years forfeited a total of 9 kanaals and 3 marlas to 6 other refugee families who she felt were needy and deserving while retaining the remainder of her entitlement (3 kanaal 2 marlas) for her descendants. 

The land in question (3 kanaal 2 marlas) is documented below with the land revenue department ref. 27/06/1986 (2 days after receiving the ownership certificate as shown at the beginning of this post):

Khevat =  was Zamindar\'s record of rights prior to Zamindari Abolition

The fifth and final official document outlining her entitlement can be witnessed in the following image, which in local parlance is described as 'Khasra Gardaawari' as recorded before the re-distribution of land in 1997, in reference to the area in question namely 'Naluchi':


(Update 18/01/22 at 0134hrs):

A lot happened yesterday viz. 17/01/22 and remains unresolved....

I received a call from Malik Waseem at about 1630hrs and sent out the following message when the call ended:

Our friend Malik Waseem has been evicted from his home by AJK police. His family migrated here from Kupwara in 1947. The land belongs to a Sikh family (Evacuee Property) who we have been trying to trace for the last month or so. His whole family is now conducting a sit-in protest on the road and he is threatening to commit suicide in the next hour or so if the Commissioner Muzaffarabad division does not intervene.

The following video was attached too:

The rest of the evening yesterday and up to this point have kept me engaged with Muzaffarabad, a couple of other places in AJK, the UK diaspora and their North American counterparts.

Just over an hour later....

His father has suffered from a suspected heart attack while sitting on the road after being evicted. His elderly mother, wife and 2 young children are also on the road and the police are still giving them a rough time. Meanwhile, Malik's father has been rushed to Ambor hospital:

Malik Waseem's father at Ambor hospital, Muzaffarabad:

At about 2100hrs I am informed that the commissioner suggests that there must be a written complaint in order for official action to be taken. I know Malik Waseem is in no condition to write a complaint and thus I suggest that he send me an audio clip with the necessary details to intimate to the commissioner, which I will then summarise in written form on his behalf.

Here's the letter to the Divisional Commissioner of Muzaffarabad: 

Complaint ref. Land issue/eviction from evacuee property

Malik Waseem s/o Ghulam Qadir
ID Card number: 82203-5742876-9
Address: Mohalla Naluchi, Ward number 25, Muzaffarabad - AJK

Addressed to: Divisional Commissioner - Muzaffarabad
Copies to: Global human rights organisations & related miscellaneous

Date: 17/01/2022
Time: 1947hrs

Dear Commissioner

My family (ailing parents, wife and infant children) and I have been sitting outside on the 
street since around 1500hrs (3pm) today when we were forcibly evicted from our home by 
Saddar (Thana) police - earlier while only womenfolk of the house were present - and they were accompanied by tehsildar Syed Sabir Hussain Naqvi. Our property was sealed in an 
opportune manner, without prior notice.

No such legal order to evict us and/or seal our property has been passed by the civil, 
session, custodian, high or supreme court. We do not know who ordered this 'action'.

At around 1800hrs (6pm) while sitting with my family on the roadside and whilst trying to 
fend off the police and local administration my elderly father suffered a heart attack - he 
wasn't allowed access to his medicine at home either - and has since been admitted at 
Ambor hospital.

On the 14th of January our stay of execution had been dismissed from civil court number 
one. We appealed against this in the district judge's court and received another stay of 
execution this morning. Having received this order and before I could reach home I 
received a call from my parents that the police had forcibly entered our premises, 
frightened my children and humiliated the womenfolk of my house.

Over the past few years, I have been writing excessively on these issues and raised them at 
various public forums over the past few years but never received appropriate remedy. 


Raja Tariq Khan was a judge in the Custodian court who visited England some years ago 
and during that visit my adversary in this case namely, Sheikh Faisal s/o Fayaz Qureshi 
(who resides in the UK) fed many people money in the (land revenue department) chain 
from top to bottom, including judge Tariq.

The term 'zaid ul mayaad' (English translation means overdue) was quoted in the earlier 
supreme court hearing. Our argument is that we have been living here since 1949 and fraud has been conducted to evict us. It is been allotted to someone else whilst we were still 
residing here.

These lands belong to those non Muslims who were killed or driven away from this 

As refugees ourselves, we were allotted this land in 1968 and had been occupying it since 
1949. In 1985, we also paid 'maalkana' to the custodian for effective formal occupancy. 
Since then, nobody has questioned our presence till 2019 when an application was made in 
the tehsildaar's office. Patwari Ghulam Abbas Qureshi at the time misguided my father to 
challenge the allotment claimed by the other party (our adversary), which didn't even have 
legal status. Thus, the patwari instead of correcting our record put my father on a 
deliberately misguided course, as a result of which a 'miyaadi' (effectively time limitation 
clause) was enforced.


What I am demanding is a comprehensive re-inquiry be conducted of this whole case, 
which I allege widespread fraud has been committed over. A commission should be formed comprising of honest people. All the manipulation of land records in the revenue 
department should be investigated. For example, the land that we have been allotted (to my paternal grandmother Sarwar Jan); if we cannot stay here then where is the land that we 
have been allotted? Who has committed fraud and at what stage was it committed?                      
I feel that this act is simply a conspiracy to spread anarchy in this region and to spoil the 
peaceful environment of AJK. This I understand. The authorities have humiliated and 
disgraced us. They have forced us to conduct a sit-in protest on the roadside with nowhere 
to go in this freezing cold.

My father is in hospital at the moment and if anything untoward happens to him, I did say 
that I will immolate myself (burn myself to death). I have momentarily retreated from that 
because the administration is saying that they will now measure the land in question. I 
responded that if they do so, then we will get up from the roadside. If indeed the land 
measurement exercise clarifies who is entitled to occupancy.

I also put these questions and dilemma to Muzaffarabad's social and political organisations. Furthermore, even local human rights organisations, the press and lawyer's bodies. Is 
trespassing into a home of womenfolk and disgracing them an act of humanity? Is this the 
standard we have set ourselves? Is duplicity in all matters the norm and are we all resigned 
to that?

We remain peaceful. It should be remembered that it was this very AJK government that allotted this land to us and we do not want to fight. All we can do in reaction is sit on the road and protest. At the moment my father is critical in hospital. May Allah give him life and 
health. Everything now depends on his unfolding condition and we will lay out our next 
plan of action accordingly.

If anything happens to my father I will immolate myself as well as my wife and children; 
either in Gilani Chowk, outside the press club or even inside the supreme court itself.   

Yours sincerely 

Malik Waseem

The above letter is a translated summary derived from an audio message in Urdu and sent 
to Tanveer Ahmed, an action-oriented public policy researcher working uninterrupted on 
the ground in AJK since April 2005.

The audio message as well as further background details on this issue can be accessed at 
the following link: 

End of letter......

I'm obviously working now beyond midnight and I do know that a range of negotiations 
are taking place near Malik Waseem's 'home'. Here's an example:

As I wrap up for the day - at 0350hrs - some people may wonder why I'm stretching myself to assist Malik Waseem. Well, he has always stretched himself to assist me in matters of public interest - whenever I contacted him - since 2010. He has assisted me in all aspects of our pursuit to revive religious harmony in AJK in general and revitalise the pre-eminent centre of learning at Sharda. 

He suffered and faced victimisation as a youth in his student politics days when he was with the JKNSF, facing jail and the prospect of sectarian violence. He feels that he has been targeted more intensely when he acted as one of the hosts of the Hindu (Vijay Abrol) and  Sikh (Devinder Singh Behal) in Muzaffarabad, when they visited from across the LOC in 2013.

Needless to say, there are a lot of people who don't like the idea of co-existence, especially between the Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims of Jammu Kashmir & Allied areas (JKA). Anybody working on that line is automatically targeted. Most of us know what happened to Arif Shahid soon after this visit.

According to Malik Waseem, matters intensified when he assisted me in hosting a Hindu couple from Hong Kong when they visited Muzaffarabad in October 2019. The couple achieved a milestone by conducting the first Hindu puja (worship/ritual) on the banks of the river Neelam (Kishenganga) in AJK since 1947.

All told, everything has to be taken into consideration, given that we are part of the most contested territory in the world. The word 'land' takes on new dimensions here. The role of the land mafia ironically connects internal land-grabbing of 2022 with external land grabbing in 1947! 


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