3.90 Lakh Kanal State Land Reclaimed In Kashmir So Far: Sources

KO File Photo by Abid Bhat

Srinagar- The Jammu and Kashmir administration has retrieved around 3.90 lakh kanal of state and Kahcharai land from the “illegal occupants” across Kashmir in its ongoing anti-encroachment drive so far.

An official from the Revenue Department disclosed that men and machinery were on job to retrieve the remaining  2.70 lakh kanal of land from the encroachers.

The official told Kashmir Observer that most of the land has been retrieved from South Kashmir so far.

He said that nobody has been spared in the land eviction drive be it— bureaucrats, politicians and other influential persons.

The government maintained that the retrieved land is meant for various public purposes like developmental projects, playgrounds, village centric amenities, industries, etc. by the revenue officials in consultation with concerned villagers/PRIs and sign boards are also erected immediately after the eviction drives.

Notably, the Jammu and Kashmir government had directed removal of all encroachment on land owned by UT, including Roshni land and Kahcharai land by January 31. However the drive continued as the authorities failed to meet the deadline.

The government action has met massive protest from the people and the regional political parties. While the authorities say that the drive targets influential people only, the people say that not only the rich but many commoners, small-time shopkeepers and business fraternity are also being targeted.

The political parties maintain that the people are not being served prior notice and a chance of hearing is being deliberately avoided.

However, the official said that not a single active residential house has been demolished so far.

“We haven’t demolished an active residential house so far. Even the active residents of influential persons have been spared as of now,” said the official wishing not to be named.

On Monday, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that due process is not being followed and bulldozers have become the first response of the Union Territory administration to evict people from the lands they have been occupying.

“Due process has to be followed. Without issuing a single notice, they are directly sending bulldozers. If someone has occupied any property, issue them a notice, give them time to respond and then take action,” Abdullah had said.

The official, however, said that demolishing any structure and retrieving any land is only done when the authorities are sure that the land or structure is illegal.

The official further said when the laws that provided land to the people had been struck down by the court, there was no need to send the notice to the occupant.

It may be noted, the High court has struck down the Roshni Land Act in 2020. However the government made an oral statement in the court that it won’t take any “coercive action” against petitioners.

In January 2023, the Jammu and Kashmir government had directed removal of all encroachments on land owned by UT, including Roshni land and Kahcharai land.

The official said that the government provides notices to those occupants only if they think that the person might have “tangible grounds” to prove his claim.

He further said the drive will continue and no-one will be spared.

He further said that if the government has done an illegal activity by demolishing anyones structure and retrieving the land, the aggrieved persons would have approached the court.

“..But when you know that the court won’t give you any relief, because  you had illegally occupied the land, you stay silent and make noise on social media only,” said the official.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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