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Tuesday, April 16, 2024  
07 Shawwal 1445  

KMC fights to protect pre-Partition Indian govt property from builder

Story dates to 1909
Plot 2/27 Frere Town, Clifton, Karachi near Lilly Bridge.
Plot 2/27 Frere Town, Clifton, Karachi near Lilly Bridge.

Karachi Municipal Corporation has found itself fighting on behalf of none other than the Indian government—indirectly—to protect a pre-Partition property that a builder and ex-police officer are eyeing.

The property is a rundown and neglected bungalow located in Clifton’s Frere Town, at Plot No. 2/27. Old documents and internal investigations tell a fascinating story of how it changed hands.

   The Karachi municipality document dating to 1909
The Karachi municipality document dating to 1909

The Karachi Municipality leased the plot to Essaji Ismailji in 1909 for 99 years. The document says its value was Rs8,000. In 1937, Behari Lal Thakur Das and his wife Padmavati Thakur acquired the plot. But then, in April 1957 it was sold to Lever Bros Ltd. and by the end of that year, it was in the hands of the Indian government. The High Commission of India bought it for Rs470,000.

The plot is 4,736 square yards and is valued at Rs1.5 billion today.

Fast-forward half a century. A notice appeared in Dawn newspaper inviting objections to the sale of a plot, FT2-/27 McNell Road, Frere Quarters. The District administration South sat up and took notice. This was the Indian High Commission’s property.

The deputy commissioner of the time checked the property register and confirmed his suspicion that this was the Indian government’s property. Its 99-year lease had expired in 2008.

The notice in Dawn had been placed by a man named Din Mohammad Baloch. The additional deputy commissioner Mohammad Khan Rind found that Baloch had a 2013 Letter of Administration issued by the Sindh High Court.

As it turned out, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad had written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to complain that someone was making multiple attempts to take over its property. In fact, the Sindh government had to dispatch the Frere police who registered four FIRs in October 2013 and even made arrests upon which it learnt that Din Muhammad Baloch was claiming this property was his mother’s.

ADC Rind appealed that the court-issued Letter of Administration (which allows a person to make transactions on a property) be cancelled.

But how did Din Mohammad Baloch enter the picture and why was he claiming he owned the Indian High Commission’s property? An investigation by the KMC Land department yielded a different paper trail. It then challenged Din Mohammad Baloch’s claims (letter of administration).

Din Mohammad Baloch had a sale deed dated 1973, which says that his mother Girah Naz bought the property from Behari Lal Thakur and Padmavati Thakur. However, when the Record of Rights were checked, the Sub-Registrar of the Central Record City Courts found that the sale deed details did not tally up.

KMC then presented the evidence in court and challenged Din Mohammad Baloch’s Letter of Administration issued in 2014.

However, then a truer picture emerged of what Din Mohammad Baloch had actually wanted to do with the property.

In 2022, a builder called Aftab Lakhany went to court for a stay order. He said that he had entered into an agreement with Din Mohammad Baloch for this property which was inherited from Girah Naz. Upon his mother’s death, Baloch could not pay to renew the lease.

Lakhany agreed to pay Baloch Rs947 million as “sale consideration” and give him 40% of the profits from a project that would be built on the property.

Aaj News has been told that an investigation is being conducted into this case. This story will be updated accordingly.

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