Moon Garden eviction: Over hundred families out in the open as SHC upholds order to seal apartments

  • Minister Saad Rafique says Railways not in favour of eviction
  • Sindh LG Minister Nasir Shah claims land belongs to provincial govt

Uprooted by a Sindh High Court order Tuesday in the illegal construction case of Moon Garden apartments, more than a hundred families have been forced to spend the cold nights of November out in the open.

Located in Karachi’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal area, the multi-storey building housing 180 residential flats, was sealed after it was declared illegal by the high court. The Railways Employees Cooperative Housing Society had claimed that the over 400 thousand acres of land the building had been erected upon belonged to it.

After the issuance of three-day eviction ultimatum, the dwellers took to the streets Wednesday night and remained under the open skies, seeking answer to their question as to why the builder was spared for leasing out the flats if the building was actually illegal. They also questioned as to why the construction work had not been halted 15 years ago.

The protesters, including, elderly people, women and children, chanted slogans against the move and the government as they complained they had been robbed of their lifelong savings.

It may be mentioned that the court’s (three-day) ultimatum for the residents to evacuate the building expired Thursday evening.

The SHC also dismissed a review petition Thursday filed by the residents of the apartments against their eviction. In the petition, the residents requested the court to issue a stay order since a case was already under hearing in the Supreme Court. The SHC however dismissed the petition terming it as inadmissible. It however permitted the affectees to become party to the case.

Official documents show that the Moon Garden project was launched in 1998 and its map was approved after ten years in 2009.

Meanwhile, Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said the Pakistan Railways was not in favour of eviction of the residents of the plaza. He said the Society’s management itself awarded this land to the builder without getting permission from the Pakistan Railways and that action should be taken against both the society management as well as the builder. He also clarified that the Pakistan Railways was neither appellant nor respondent in this case.

Giving details about the Railways Employees Cooperative Society Karachi, Rafique said the Pakistan Railways provided this land on 99-years lease in 1988 after fulfilling all legal requirements and received Rs 1,297,000. As per rules, the Pakistan Railways does not interfere after giving its lands on lease, added the minister.

In a latest development, Sindh Local Governments Minister Nasir Hussain Shah claimed that the land where the Moon Garden building was located, belonged to the Sindh government. He also offered legal assistance to the dwellers in the case.

It may be mentioned that the SHC had, on Wednesday, ordered the police authorities to arrest the builder, Abdul Razak Khamosh, and produce him before the court on November 18.