Auqaf seeks police help in vacating shrines from illegal occupation.
Byline: Aamir Yasin
RAWALPINDI -- The Auqaf Department has sought help from the deputy commissioner in appointing a magistrate for retrieving the land of two shrines, in Murree and Gujar Khan, from illegal managements.
'Shrine Malik Suraj Dad in Murree, also known as Potha Sharif, and the shine of Akmal Shah Warsi and Izzat Shah in Gujar Khan, referred to as Chappar Sharif, was the property of Auqaf since 1968 but the affairs of the shrines, including charity operations, is being run by some locals without permission from the government,' said Auqaf Department Regional Director Zahid Iqbal.
Talking to Dawn, he said the department needs police force and a magistrate to get the shrines back from the custody of illegal occupants.
'Under the law, the Auqaf Department is to collect the charity funds which are used for the welfare of orphans and widows in the Potohar region.
'The illegal custody of the shrines have lead to financial issues in the department and it is facing problems in issuing the stipends to widows and orphans,' he said.
Mr Iqbal said the department has requested the district administration and written to the deputy commissioner to help in getting back custody of the shrines.
'The deputy commissioner has authority to appoint a magistrate and ask the police to get back state land,' he said.
'The police and Special Branch have said possession of the shrines can be taken back if suitable force is employed,' he added.
He explained that there are some 72 shrines and 35 mosques in the region and that the government is collecting charity funds from these which is used for the welfare of those in need.
He said the government has also asked that proper security measures be employed in and around the shrines in the region and that the department will be able to take these measures with the help of the police once it has possession of the shrines.
He said funds are also needed to install proper security equipment and that the department will use some of the charity funds for procuring these.
The Punjab government has issued directives for constructing eight feet high boundary walls topped with barbed wire, walk through gates, CCTV cameras and the deployment of security grounds around shrines.
A senior official of the district administration told Dawn that directions were being sought from the Punjab Home Department after which it will appoint a magistrate and police force to help the Auqaf Department.
He said the district administration had refused requests of financial help by the Auqaf department as it earns money from shrines.