LKC church land row: Korean Embassy seeks govt help against mafia
LAHORE, Feb 17: The Embassy of Republic of Korea has sought help of Lahore division administration to save a piece of land purchased by Korean Church (LKC) from grabbers who were allegedly making false claims of its ownership and were being condoned by police and revenue officials concerned.
The LKC was registered under Societies’ Registration Act-1860 in January 1995. Having office at FC College Christian Education Building, the body comprises seven (all Korean) office-bearers — Mr Mayung Seop Noh (Chairman), Mr Oh Sung Hoon (General Secretary), Mr In Jae Lee (Treasure), Mr Suck Kwon Kim (Worship Committee Chairperson), Mr Young Hee Lee (Admin Committee Chairperson) and Mrs In Sim Kim (Fellowship Committee Chairperson).
According to documents available with Dawn, the embassy wrote a letter to Commissioner Jawad Rafique Malik and sought his help in resolving the issue. “I refer to my ambassador, Mr Choong-Joo Choi’s telephonic conversion with you on the subject matter and your letter of October 16 addressed to Additional District Collector (Revenue) and Model Town Assistant Commissioner for necessary action. We have been informed that the accused party (Mr Kamal Bishop etc) has started construction of boundary wall to demonstrate their procession of the Korean Church site,” the letter by Mr Jung-Ho Park, the embassy’s consul, written a couple of months ago to the commissioner reads.
The embassy sought a strict action against the land mafia led by Mr Kamal Bishop allegedly trying to occupy the land worth millions of rupees situated at Chak Shahzada, linking city’s main artery, Ferozepur Road.
The documents show the LKC through its governing body purchased a piece of land measuring 28 Kanals and 15 Marlas from Muhammad Ramzan, Muhammad Khan, Muhammad Tariq and Muhammad Ibrahim in May 1998 and a sale deed was lawfully registered by the sub-registrar (Model Town). The revenue officials after registering the sale deed transferred the land to LKC through its missionary committee chairman on June 8, 1998. The LKC after purchasing the land deputed a security guard there in order to look after the property.
In September 2012 a group led by one Kamal Shad Maseeh tried to grab the land after getting a copy of its Fard-e-Malkiat (ownership paper), allegedly in connivance with the revenue officials (patwari etc) concerned.
“Mr Kamal posed as LKC’s missionary committee head, claiming to be caretaker-cum-owner of the land,” says a representative of the LKC secretary general Mr Oh Sung Hoon. In September, last year, Kamal tried to get land possession unlawfully. Alarmed by the move, the LKC officials approached the police with a request to thwart the bid.
“On September 14, the accused, Kamal Shad, tried to grab the land by force. We informed the police on their emergency number 15 after which they barred Kamal from breaking the law. On September 27, Kamal again tried to take possession of the land and we again called the police. However, the accused managed to flee from the site,” an application submitted to Kahna police by LKC secretary general Mr Hoon’s representative Wahid Mahmood Khan reads.
Khan in his application said since the land had neither been cultivated nor had a boundary wall, the accused wanted to take advantage of the situation by grabbing it through forged documents.
Wahid said though the land ownership documents were shown to the police they advised both parties to move civil court.
“In October, Mr Kamal moved civil court and claimed to be the land owner having its physical possession, posing as missionary committee head. He first got a stay order that was effective till second hearing of the case. The court appointed a one-man local commission to visit the site and submit a report,” Khan said.
He said the commission in its report stated neither Kamal nor LKC office bearer had land possession. Kamal also failed to file reply to objections raised by the court.
LKC secretary general Mr Hoon said the land mafia led by Mr Kamal seemed to be much influential as neither the police nor any revenue department official was ready to help the LKC administration in this regard.
“We purchased the land lawfully for welfare purpose. But (some) people here in Lahore want to grab this. I as well as other LKC body members are really worried about the situation we are facing at the moment,” he said.
He said how a country where even property of foreign nationals and welfare institutions was not safe from land mafia could be prosperous.
“It is really very upsetting for us that influential people here grab land in connivance with state officials concerned as well as by dragging the actual owners into unnecessary litigation, and even taking them to police station,” he deplored.
He said keeping in view the seriousness of situation, the LKC office-bearers also informed the Korean Embassy that tried hard to get the issue resolved but to no avail as land mafia was still at work.
He said the accused had nothing to do with the LKC. “Surprisingly, he appeared from no where and started claiming himself to be the committee head and was trying to grab our land,” he said, demanding the higher authorities should take strict action against the accused.
On the other hand, though Mr Kamal Maseeh admitted the land had been purchased by the LKC, he claimed to be custodian of the land. “Though I admit that the LKC had purchased this land, I am its custodian being the FC College foreigner board’s bishop. So since I am bishop, I will remain custodian of the land purchased by the LKC,” he argued.
When asked about the documents which apparently denied his claim of being LKC missionary committee head, he insisted he could “prove it” in court of law.
He said that he wanted to get the land’s possession so that it could be used for the church. Asked if he felt LKC had some other plans regarding the land use, he could not come up with a cogent reply.
Model Town Assistant Commissioner Ms Amina Munir said the matter was actually related to title of the property and not concerned with any individual. She said that she had asked both parties to bring the ‘original’ documents supporting their respective land ownership claims, but no one showed up. When asked about the available sale deed and the mutation of the property in favour of LKC, she said the LKC office-bearers had showed her just a copy of these documents. Asked why she did not verify land ownership claims by both parties by checking revenue record available with her, she said the area actually fell under revenue limits of the land settlement officer (Cantonment).
“Since it is a very sensitive issue, we are dealing with it very carefully. We know the Korean Embassy was involved in the matter and we are trying hard to avoid any clash between the two parties on the issue,” she added.
Lahore Commissioner Jawad Rafique Malik who had allowed the LKC office-bearers to construct a boundary wall around the land and build a church and other facilities there according to their plan said: “The LKC office-bearers (all Koreans) are genuine people and we will continue to support them”, adding no-one (except LKC) would be allowed to possess the land as it was the actual owner.