Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir police have filed a case against 13 tribals for allegedly attempting to grab forest land in Raiyar village of central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
According to officials, the First Information Report (FIR) was filed against 13 tribals under section 379 (Punishment for theft) /427 (Mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) of Indian Penal Court (IPC). All the 13 people have been accused of trespassing the forest land and damaging the fence erected by the forest department.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) OF Pir Panjal Division Budgam, Muhammad Ashraf Katoo told Kashmir Observer that FIR was registered on their complaint on September 17 against a group of individuals who had trespassed the forest land and stole fencing of the department in an attempt to encroach the land.
Ravinder Singh, Station House Officer (SHO) Khanshaib, Budgam confirmed to Kashmir Observer that an FIR has been registered on the request of DFO Budgam.
However, rejecting the claims of DFO, the accused said that all the charges pressed against them were baseless and unfounded.
“We were just demanding the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and went to the DFO office for the same,” Abdul Majid Deenda, a resident of Riyar village, told Kashmir Observer.
However, he said that over 13 people booked in the FIR were bailed out recently.
The incident happened a day after Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha handed over the Individual and Community Forest Rights certificates to members of Tribal Communities of Jammu division.
He congratulated the tribal communities and said that within a week of its beginning in Kashmir division, the process of handing over of Forest Rights Certificates had been started in Jammu. He termed their participation significant in the complete implementation of Forest Rights Act.
However, the tribals of Budgam allege that the LG’s orders aren’t being implemented in the district and instead they were being threatened with an FIR.
Jehangir Ahmad Deenda, Vice Chairman of Forest Rights Act committee accused forest officials of dodging them for months before demanding a bribe for verifying their documents for the implementation of FRA
“We refused to do so and they lodged an FIR against us saying that we stole the fencing of the forest department,” he said.
However, Syed Ahmad Kataria, SDM told Kashmir Observer that it was a “small case” of trespassing and some fencing was damaged—thus an FIR.
“Actually, the FRA is a new concept and the people aren’t fully aware about it. I cleared their misconceptions and all their grievances will be addressed through a proper channel,” he said.
However, DFO Budgam maintained that the Deenda family allegedly tried to encroach the forest land under the garb of FRA.
“On the night of 7 September, they stole over 185 fencing poles of forest department to grab the land,”
About the allegations of demanding the bribe, he said the accused are lying to cover-up their crime.
“The forest land is worth crores and is under the control of the forest department, they illegally tried to occupy it by demolishing the fence,” he said.
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