Christians in Lahore are celebrating legal victory against land mafia over the recovery of Darul Hikmat (DuH), a Christian education centre, which was returned to its board of directors on January 8 after almost half a decade of illegal occupation.
Owned by the Darul Hikmat Trust, the community school was established in 1986 and spread over 55 kanals of land in the Gullo Kot area of the provincial capital until 12 kanals were sold during the legal battle.
The institution houses hostels for both boys and girls, besides multiple lawns as well as a football ground now over 37 kanals and 13 marlas.
“We had to cross a mountain for possession of the institute. Higher-ups were approached and proofs were dug out. The damages to infrastructure alone are worth over Rs300 million whereas other liabilities include utility bills of Rs500,000,” Brig (r) Nayyar Firdous, chairman of the DuH board, told Kross Konnection.
“It’s a huge project. The board has formed a committee to calculate the damages within three days. One of our branches, located on Bedian Road, is still being occupied illegally. We shall take legal action against Noraiz Dilawaiz,” he added.
Dilawaiz, a legal advisor of DuH hired in 2016, was named by Trustee Dr Christy Munir in a 2020 complaint with the office of deputy commissioner (DC) about the hijacking of the organisation through fake documents.
The news of the institution’s return to the board of directors last Saturday amid tight police security, was announced by Lahore DC Umer Sher Chattha on his official Facebook page.
“On the directions of PM #ImranKhanPTI district administration retrieved illegally grabbed Darul Hikmat School from a Qabza Mafia (land grabber) after three years and handed over back to the Christian community (legal owners). Land grabbing & Qabza Mafia will never be tolerated in Lahore,” he wrote.
“They had booked the first floor. Our assets are gone. There is no furniture… cupboards, ceiling fans and even kitchen utensils. The cleaning alone will take two months. People have built houses on the sold property,” said the newly installed administrator of the institute, Asher Moon Bhatti.
Presbyterian Church of Pakistan Moderator Majeed Abel has also congratulated the DuH board of directors.
“It’s big news. We are very happy. No doubt there are many challenges to rehabilitate the institute to its past glory. Commissioner of Lahore and the entire team struggling for its freedom deserve congratulations,” he told Kross Konnection.
“We are tired of these litigations. Sadly, the land mafia takes leverage of our own people to manipulate the justice system and court cases go on for years,” he added.
For years, Christian activists have been protesting against the disposal of church properties, demanding the arrest of their facilitators and condemning the land mafia. They blame board members for protecting the corruption of their relatives and selling the missionary properties.
Churches in three other provinces require an NOC from provincial ministries of minorities affairs and interfaith harmony for the sale, transfer, purchase and gifting of their properties. Punjab operates under federal law on minority properties.