Uproar In LC As Papers Show Taj As Land-Grabber

Tussle Between Opposition, Treasury Benches On House Panel Probe

Srinagar - The legislative council witnessed uproar on Thursday as a Panthers Party member brandished proof of irrigation minister Taj Mohiuddin occupying 14 kanals of forest land illegally in Shopian.

The situation was particularly embarrassing for the ruling coalition which had just categorically ruled out any minister being in illegal possession of state land.

Syed Rafiq Ahmad Shah of the Panthers Party, who had put the question, turned the tables by thrusting official documents into the hands of several ministers, claiming it to be evidence of Mohiuddin’s culpability.

According to Shah, a report by the Shopian tehsildar shows that the minister had illegally encroached on state forest land.

The report says that Mohiuddin had occupied the land illegally 25 years ago, and had applied to transfer it to his name under the Roshni Act in 2001.

The district development commissioner’s office had taken no action on the report so far, the tehsildar has said.

The revelations sparked off an angry row in the upper house with member Murtaza Khan joining in for the demand of a House Committe probe.

The treasury benches opposed the demand, saying that a departmental inquiry would be sufficient to establish facts.

Not convinced by the government’s reasoning, Shah feared that evidence and records would be tampered with by officials to favour Taj Mohiuddin.

“I do not doubt the forest minister’s honesty, but there are strong possibilities of other tampering with evidence,” he said.

The presiding officer of the house has reserved decision on the probe question.(Observer News Service)

No illegal possession by sitting minister: Altaf

In reply to a question by Syed Muhammad Rafiq Shah, the minister for Forests, Mian Altaf Ahmad, said that as per the revenue authorities, no illegal possession of forest land by any sitting minister has been established so far in the Sadev Forests.

However, betraying lack of confidence in his own assertion, the minister said he had directed his department to re-verify the matter.


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