J&K Government encourages encroachment of State land
by Hari Om on 30 Nov 2016 2 Comments

Jammu & Kashmir State is perhaps the solitary State in India where the Government itself encourages encroachment of State and Forest land for devious purposes and for fulfilling the insatiable lust of unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats and other undesirables for pelf and real estate.


Significantly, the State Government acknowledges that loot and plunder of the State and Forest land on an unprecedented scale took place, particularly between 2007 and 2013 (Congress-PDP and NC-Congress rule) on the floor of the Assembly, assures action, but does nothing practically to proceed against the encroachers. The matter has also reached the Jammu & Kashmir High Court and the Vigilance Commission is also seized of the matter.


What did Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) say as early as on March 10, 2014? “Rs 25,000 crore was estimated to have been the cost of such land worked out by then government while enacting the Act, the present value would be much more”, according to Principal Accountant General (Audit) Subash Chandra Pandey.


According to CAG, “among the beneficiaries of the illegal and irregular deals under the Act were the National Conference’s Nawai Subah Trust and the Congress’s Khidmat Trust. While 7 kanal, 15 marlas and 84 sq ft of land were transferred to Khidmat Trust, 3 kanal and 16 marlas were given to Nawai Subah at Zero Bridge in Srinagar”.


The CAG further said: “This land that was under commercial use was transferred to the two trusts at concessional rate applicable to land under institutional use. The statutory committee under the Act fixed market rate of the land at Rs 1.10 crore per kanal in case of the Khidmat Trust and Rs 1.20 crore per kanal in the case of the Nawai Subah Trust. Both were given 85 per cent rebate, with land valued at Rs 13.10 crore transferred for only Rs 1.97 crore. This amount too was not recovered, with only Rs 1.47 crore collected so far”.


What is this scam all about? On March 1, 2002 the Government of Farooq Abdullah passed the Jammu & Kashmir State Lands (Vesting Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, also known as the Roshni Act. It was enforced a year later on March 1, 2002. However, the Governments of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Ghulam Nabi Azad amended the controversial Act in 2004 and 2007.


In between, the Government had a survey conducted to find how much land belonged to the State and how much land was under encroachers and illegal occupants. According to the survey, 1,25,03,973 kanals land belonged to the State, of which 20,64,972 kanals, valued at Rs 25,448 crore, was under illegal occupants.


It was in Jammu province that the bulk of the State and Forest lands were encroached by politicians, including ministers, bureaucrats, police officials and other undesirable elements. According to official figures, 2.10 lakh kanal of State land was encroached in Jammu. During the regimes of Ghulam Nabi Azad and Omar Abdullah, 39,829 encroachers of State land were granted ownership rights under the scheme, called Jammu Kashmir State Lands (Vesting Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, also titled Roshni Act, for just Rs 24.25 crore.


As for Kashmir, the total number of encroachers of the State land was 10,328 and the land under their illegal occupation measured 19,293 kanals. The grant of ownership in Kashmir fetched Rs 54.17 crore.


Just compare the scale of loot and plunder of the State land in Jammu province, particularly in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts (all overwhelmingly Hindu), and Kashmir province, and you will see the difference, and also conclude that the purpose behind the encroachment of the State land in Jammu was sinister.


How could it happen that encroachers would encroach 2.10 lakh kanal of State land in Jammu and get ownership by paying a paltry sum of Rs 24.25 crore, while in Kashmir, the encroachers would encroach only 19,293 kanal of State land and would pay Rs 54.17 crore to get occupancy rights.


It doesn’t require rocket science to find the truth behind the loot and plunder of State land in Jammu. There is no doubt that the Governments of Ghulam Nabi Azad and Omar Abdullah not only helped politicians, bureaucrats, police officials and land mafia to loot the State land, but also to change the demography of Jammu as well as Kathua and Samba districts. It is not a coincidence that most of the Muslim colonies in and around Jammu came up only after 2002.


All this should vindicate those in Jammu who have been claiming for years that an insidious influence is at work to change the Hindu-majority character of Jammu province and create a Kashmir-like situation there, so that Pakistan and its Kashmir-based jihadis can accelerate the process of the State’s separation from India.


What is highly disturbing is the fact that the Jammu & Kashmir Government utterly has failed to take action against the encroachers. And, this is despite the fact that (1) the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) described the scam as the biggest-ever land scam, (2) the Revenue Minister Syed Basharat Bukhari has told the Assembly that the Roshni scheme has turned into “land mafia”, and (3) the Speaker of the Assembly Kavinder Gupta has said that “not only the officials, even ministers from the previous governments had been found involved in the land scam”.


What gives hope for justice, however, is the fact that the Prime Minister’s Office has asked the Jammu & Kashmir Chief Secretary to look into the complaint that former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had encroached more than 5 kanals of State land in the Bathindi area of Jammu City and constructed a huge mansion on it.


But this is not enough. But is needed is a comprehensive inquiry into the whole scam so that the nation cane to know the reasons behind the protracted land grab. 

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