The Punjab Mass Transit Authority and LDA on Thursday committed another violation of Lahore High Court orders as it damaged the courtyard of renowned saint Baba Syed Mauj Darya’s wife shrine for the construction of Orange Train line.
The Mauj Darya Shrine is among 11 historical buildings where Lahore High Court (LHC) in a verdict ordered to stop construction work for any purpose.
The LHC on Jan 28, 2016 rewarded stay order on a petition which stated that the Punjab government was violating Antiquity Act, 1975. The court in its verdict, announced on August 19, had ordered the Punjab government to keep the construction work 200 feet away from these eleven historical buildings and ordered to form a review committee to assess the effects of the construction on historical buildings. These buildings included Chauburji, Saint Andrew Church, GPO Building, tomb of Zeb-un-Nisa, Supreme Court Registry Branch, Aiwan-e-Auqaf, Shalamar Gardens, Budhu ka Awa, Shrine of Baba Mauj Daria, Lakshmi Building and Shah Chiragh Building.
However, a team of construction workers, working on Orange Line Metro Train project damaged the courtyard of Bibi Kalaan which is also located within the 200 feet of Mauj Darya shrine.
This operation to damage the courtyard was carried out on Thursday under the supervision of Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (TEPA) early in the morning which it had to stop on the protest of the residents of the area.
After the information of TEPA’s operation in the premises of shrine of Syed Mauj Darya’s wife, Syeda Bibi Fatima Sani alias Bibi Kalaan, the residents came out and showed their anger. The charged residents protested and chanted slogans against TEPA and authorities concerned after blocking the road.
The shrine area of Bibi Kalaan is located at the OLMT route’s package-1, which is to be completed by one of the contractor Habib Construction Services. A resident of the area, Asghar, told Pakistan Today that he was informed early in the morning that TEPA had attempted to demolish the shrine of Bibi Kalaan which made him angry. He said that these shrines were holy places and they would not let any authority to desecrate.
Another resident of the area accused that the government wanted to demolish the mosque adjacent to the shrine to build the track.
Later, the TEPA deputy director reached the spot and assured the residents that the damaged part of the courtyard would be restored. After which the protestors dispersed.
The court had ordered to protect the shrine after the petitioner against the OLMT project provided an order issued by Mughal ruler Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar on allocation of land to Mauj Darya shrine.
Reportedly the shrine of Bibi Kalaan is as old as the shrine of Syed Mauj Darya, which was built by King Akbar in 1591. Hence the space of courtyard was the part of shrine since the time of allocation.
The Pakistan Today tried to contact TEPA Chief Engineer Israr Saeed but he was not available for comment. A text message was also sent to his mobile number but he did not bother to reply.
Azhar Siddique, the advocate of the petitioner in OLMT case, while talking to Pakistan Today said that this was the second time that Punjab government violated the court orders within ten days. Azhar further said that this is not just violation of court orders but also an act of desecration at the end of government.