Govt asks Punjab University to give land to religious party

LAHORE:03 January: The Punjab government on Monday asked the Punjab University (PU) administration to hand over its prime two kanals to a religious party. Adviser to Chief Minister Khwaja Ahmed Hassaan held a meeting with the university authorities at 90 Shahrah-i-Quaid-i-Azam on Monday and forced them to let the government acquire the land without any delay. PU Vice Chancellor Zaffar Mueen Nasar, four deans, resident officers 1 and 2, the treasurer and the director of sports were present. The Punjab government had acquired the land of a seminary at Chauburji to accommodate the route of the Orange Line Train project, and now forced the university to give up its land to compensate the seminary. Seminary land was acquired for Orange Line train project One of the participants in the meeting told Dawn that the university authorities asked Mr Hassaan to build the seminary in question on the acquired land of the PU near the PIA Planetarium. “The provincial government told the PU administration and teachers that the land would remain property of the university and the mosque or seminary would also be constructed by the PU using its own procedures and offices,” a varsity official told Dawn. “The fact is the government’s agreement with the mosque committee reveals the contract guarantees allocation of land for the mosque/seminary at a place in the university grounds at Old Campus and it will always remain in the legal control of the mosque administration while the PU administration will have nothing to do with it.” The PU Academic Staff Association recently passed a resolution against the purposed land plan. They said under the PU Act, the land only could be used for academic purposes. Last week, a meeting of all PU deans and principals of constituent colleges was held under the chairmanship of the VC Dr Nasar for a syndicate meeting they demanded that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif stop snatching the PU land and instead, construct the mosque on the premises of other government offices on Lake Road (next to Madrassatul Banat). In the last decade, the government has taken over over 33 PU kanals for the expansion of Pekhewal Mor, the Baba Ground (a.k.a. Chishtia High School Ground) next to the Punjab Secretariat, over 305 kanals for Maulana Shaukat Ali Road, eight-kanals for the Orange Train and now eyes on two kanals more for the same project. The Punjab government has not paid even a single penny to the PU for the land. Sources say then VC Dr Mujahid Kamran gave away the land for road under an unwritten promise from the government that he would be given the third tenure as PU VC. The road has cut the once lush green serene PU New Campus into two halves . The road claimed the life of a female student when a bus hit her on Dec 13. The provincial government had also promised to build two underpasses and paying Rs300 million to the PU for the acquired land. Despite the passages of years, the government has not fulfilled its promise. The government also violated the agreement regarding construction of the commercial market on both sides of the road. The New Campus land was bought from the government by paying around Rs6.4m in 1963. In 1997, then VC Prof Dr Khalid Hameed Sheikh had preferred quitting the post, instead of giving four marlas to the government for a slip road at the Barkat Market crossing. Teachers urged the chief justice to take suo moto of ‘snatching’ of the PU land.Published in Dawn,

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