In an outstanding case of official corruption, local government officials and bigwigs in District Muzaffargarh have been involved in misappropriating land revenue worth hundreds of millions of rupees. The revenue being pocketed comes from thousands of acres of land meant for public welfare donated by Late Kora Khan under waqf system in late Nineteenth Century.
Muzaffar Khan Magsi has been fighting this case in Supreme Court on behalf of citizens of Muzaffagarh for more than three decades for proper utilization of waqf land according to Kora Khan’s testament. He told this scribe that on 5 October, 1894 Sardar Kora Khan Jatoi registered his ten thousand acre land for the public welfare through a testament. Muzaffar Khan said that this land was mainly dedicated to the education of those citizens who could not afford.
He further added “this land has been under the administration of Muzaffargarh district for more than a hundred years and the district council officials are utilizing this land as a tool for political bribery. The output/revenue of the land is divided among corrupt officials and among the contractors who secure the contract for the land against actual market price. Complaints have been registered before Punjab government a number of times but to no avail.”
Muzaffar continued “the actual annual income of this highly fertile land situated in five rivers’ delta is more than fifty crore rupees as per current market prices. But the district council officials allot this land to their relatives and friends at very low prices. Even some contractors do not pay a single penny, for instance in 1990s a contractor named Ahmed Hassan had been farming 300 acre for more than thirty years and the due of land on him was seventeen hundred thousand rupees but he did not pay and all of the money was ‘written off’ (write-off is the act of creating debit payment against the credit and vice-versa, to nullify the transaction). The irony of the fate is that the same land was again allotted to him.
The lawyer said that beside these corrupt practices and mishandling of the land the people of district even do not know where the minimal amount obtained from the contractors goes. The district council officials have been swallowing this amount for hundred years without any audit. He said that the enormous wealth of late Kora Khan is being utilized against his testament and wishes. Even the few educational stipends officially awarded on yearly basis from Kora Khan Trust go to the wealthy. For instance in Kora Khan Public School the poor of the area seldom get admission.
Late Sardar Kora Khan Bahadur belonged to Jatoi Tribe of Muzaffargarh and was a member of chieftain family. Unlike other feudal lords of Southern Punjab he was a kind hearted, great philanthropist, gifted soul and always ready to lend a hand to the needy and oppressed classes of the society. Sardar Kora Khan Jatoi was contemporary of great Muslim scholars Jamal-ud-din Afghani and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, and was impressed by their services to Muslim community of Hindustan, especially in the field of education. He had thousands of acre agricultural land in Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur but had no heir. So, instead of bequeathing or gifting his land to his extended family members or relatives, he dedicated ten thousand acre fertile land to the welfare of the poor people of Muzaffargarh. Unfortunately after his death all of his property which was meant for people’s welfare and education fell in the hands of corrupt government officials and land grabbers. The corrupt officials have been using this waqf (charitable trust) property for their personal gains and political ends.
Ghazanfer Lund, a citizen of Muzaffargarh, said that if the income of Kora Khan Trust and property would have been utilized in a fair and transparent way there would have been no illiterate in the whole district. The actual income of Kora Khan ‘dedicated property’ is more than enough to run a number of colleges and a university in the district. He said that due to corrupt, inefficient and slow judicial system the case of tremendous public interest is pending for decades. The last hearing related to the case was during the tenure of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and after lapse of twenty years the hearing was called by Supreme Court in January 2015. He demanded that all legal hindrances should be eliminated immediately. He further suggested that the dedicated land for welfare purposes should be allotted to Punjab Seed Corporation on current market rates. He further demanded that the Sardar Kora Khan Public School should be free for the poor community.