By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 21 Oct: Uttarakhand, and places like Dehradun, Mussoorie and Nainital have large enemy properties but any magisterial or judicial verdict in most of the cases related to Enemy Property has been unduly delayed by several decades. Most of the enemy property in the country is under occupation of a particular minority and this has also been a reason behind lack of will on part of the government and the courts to act and decide in such cases. However, in view of a strict stand taken by Chief Minister DM Dehradun Sonika, while giving a historic verdict in one such enemy property case, has asked the people occupying there to vacate the illegal occupation within 15 days. As per the judgement, the district administration will indulge in forced eviction of the stated property if the illegal occupants fail to vacate their possession within next 15 days. It may be recalled that this case was going on in the District Magistrate’s Court for the last forty years.
The decision taken after four long decades has been generally welcomed but some questions have also been raised. For the sake of readers, it is reiterated that in India, property that belonged to Pakistani nationals after independence is considered to be enemy property and in most such cases, the government of India is considered the custodian of such property. However, in the case of property in question, the property called Kabul House located at EC Road in Dehradun was actually owned by the royal family of Afghanistan and not Pakistan. Also, none of the owners actually became Pakistani citizens after independence and the family members mostly continued to live in India only. Hence, there is a question mark over the decision taken by District Magistrate Sonika after such a long time, as to whether this property can actually be considered as Enemy Property at all or not. Of course, the original owners of the property no longer occupy the property and most of the property stated to be worth hundreds of crores is under illegal occupation. While it is justified that illegal occupation of the said property is got vacated, the question remains whether the original owners still have a stake in the property or not.
Recently after the directions issued by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, the district administrations in the state have become active in deciding the case. In this sequence, recently the famous Metropol Enemy Property in Nainital was also got vacated by the district magistrate. In that case, it is learnt that there was some direction in this regard also from Union Home Ministry.
In the case of this enemy property belonging to the King of Kabul in Dehradun, a hearing was going on in the court of DM Dehradun on the instructions of the High Court, in which the owner of the property and other claimants were heard. As the property has been described as Enemy Property, the Government of India (Union Home Ministry) has become natural custodian of the property though the maintenance of the property was being carried out by the district administration.
There have been allegations of embezzlement of this property and many people were trying to grab the property of this Kabul House by posing as fake heirs of the Afghan Royal family. In fact, some genuine heirs to the property, all Afghans are still residing in Dehradun and it is being claimed that their arguments were not heard by the district administration during the hearing of the case. Some fake registries were also found related to this property made and put in records in Saharanpur.
It was in 1879, when King Mohammad Yakub Khan of Kabul came to Dehradun and settled here. He had property in many places. He died in 1924. His direct descendants went abroad during the partition and some of them are stated to have become citizens of Pakistan. Hence the property went on to be categorised as Enemy Property.
The claimants to the said property included Mohammad Shahid, Mohammad Khalid Abdul Razzaq and Arif Khand. In between a Saharanpur resident Tariq Akhtar is also accused of involvement in 23 fake registries related to this property and some similar properties. Some genuine relatives of the Royal Family of Kabul are however still living in Dehradun and are in a fix what steps to take in this matter. As far as fake registries related to this property is concerned, one FIR is lodged but no further action has been taken.
Some of the current occupants of the properties are GP Uniyal, Dhan Bahadur Rana, Vinod Kumar Pant, Manish Bhatia, Bina Kumari, Saurabh Gaur, Nitin, Jabbal Singh, Bachchi Devi, Meenakshi, Rajmohan, Rajkumar, Kamal, Ajay and Sanjay.
According to the information, the role of the controversial Tehsildar Rashid in this entire episode was also considered suspicious, as these properties were about to be offered by manipulating the documents of the Municipal Corporation, which was stopped by the then Municipal Commissioner Vinay Shankar Pandey. Rashid is accused of being involved in several fake registries in Dehradun and Saharanpur of properties located in Dehradun district.
It is also a matter of surprise that no District Magistrate could dare to decide the case in these forty years though it was in the knowledge of all the district magistrates as well as top government and Police officials of the state.
By Arun Pratap Singh