4 ex-Ministers of NC, BJP, PDP, Congress in Revenue Department’s 1st list to vacate encroached State lands in Jammu
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Jammu, 14 January :
Over 30 politicians of different political parties, including former Ministers and legislators, have been identified as the State land grabbers in the Revenue Department’s preliminary exercise for retrieval of the government lands in Jammu and Kashmir. The Union Territory Government has directed all the 20 Deputy Commissioners to remove all encroachments from the State and community (kahcharai) lands and retrieve the same before 31 January 2023.
According to the official documents, senior National Conference (NC) leader and former Minister of State, Sajad Ahmad Kichloo, his brother Tanveer Kichloo and other relatives have grabbed 20 kanals of the State and Forest land in Khasra No: 249 of village Sunjwan, Tehsil Bahi, in Jammu district.
Senior BJP leader and former Minister, Abdul Gani Kohli, has grabbed 16 kanals of State land in Khasra No: 264 of village Channi Rama, Tehsil Bahu, district Jammu, for the purpose of the establishment of an educational institute.
Senior Gujjar leader, Choudhary Zulfikar Ali, who functioned as PDP’s MLA and Minister before shifting to Apni Party, has grabbed 3 kanals and 12 marlas of State land for his banquet hall in Khasra No: 1089 of village Chowadhi, in Tehsil Bahu of Jammu district. Choudhary, whose father Choudhary Mohammad Hussain served as NC’s MLA and Minister for more than 45 years, belongs to an influential political family of Rajouri.
Senior Congress leader and former Minister Abdul Majid Wani has grabbed 3 kanals of State land for his residential house in Khasra No: 264 of village Channi Rama in Tehsil Bahu of Jammu district.
Senior PDP leader Shanti Devi, who passed away on 21 May 2017, has been shown in illegal possession of 6 kanals of State land in Khasra No: 95 of village Sidhra, Tehsil and District Jammu. According to the survey, late Shanti Devi got a mobile telecommunication tower installed on the same land and the premises walled. She served as PDP’s MLA and MLC.
Former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s two brothers, namely Nissar Azad and Sajad Azad, have been shown in illegal possession of 6 kanals of State land for residential houses in Khasra No: 12 of village Sunjwan, Tehsil Bahu, district Jammu. They are living separately from Ghulam Nabi Azad who quit Congress party in 2022 and floated his own Democratic Azad Party after serving as J&K’s CM, Union Cabinet Minister and Member of both Houses of Parliament for over 40 years.
Senior NC leader and former MLA has grabbed 1 kanal of State land for his residential house in Khasra Nos 3 and 19 of village Sunjwan, Tehsil Bahi, district Jammu. NC leader Haroon Choudhary has been shown in possession of 2 kanals of State land in Khasra No: 12 of village Sunjwan, Tehsil Bahu, district Jammu.
The first list of the State land encroachers also includes former Union Minister and BJP leader late Professor Chaman Lal Gupta’s businessman son, Anil Gupta aka Anu, senior NC leader and former MLA Abdul Wahid Shan, former MLA Bashir Ahmad Sheikh who have encroached smaller pieces of State land.
Former Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Mohammad Yusuf Khan, and former Advocate General, Mohammad Aslam Goni, also figure in the government’s list of the State land encroachers. They have allegedly grabbed 1 kanal each in Khasra Nos 5 and 3 respectively of village Sunjwan, Tehsil Bahi, district Jammu.
Property dealer Abdul Majeed Malik has been found in illegal possession of 15 kanals of State land in Khasra No: 371 of village Sunjwan, Tehsil Bahu, district Jammu.
Retired KAS officers Naseem Malik, Bashir Ahmad Runyal, Pervaiz Khateeb, retired DFO Abdul Qayoom Bhat besides retired engineers A.H. Kamal, Tariq Ahmad Wani, Tabish Wani and a number of other retired government employees and businessmen have been shown in possession of smaller pieces of State land in Bahu and Jammu South tehsils of Jammu district.
Most of the alleged land-grabbers have raised residential or commercial structures on the encroached State lands.
“This is only a tip of the iceberg. Not less than 30 influential politicians, who have served as Ministers and legislators in the last, besides retired bureaucrats and businesspersons have been identified as State land grabbers in Jammu and Kashmir”, said a senior official.
According to the official, most of these encroachments had taken place on the posh outskirts of the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar—in Bahu tehsil (Sidhra, Bhathandi, Sunjwan) in Jammu and Humhama and Rangret areas of Srinagar—in the last several decades. Cost of land in these areas ranges between Rs 2.00 crore and Rs 4 crore.
“This is excluding the lands transferred under the Roshni scheme and the community lands (kahcharai) occupied by thousands of land grabbers”, the official clarified.
Consequent of the UT Government’s recent decision of retrieving all these lands, Commissioner-Secretary Revenue, Vijay Kumar Bidhuri, has directed all the 20 DCs, vide Circular No: 02-JK(Rev) of 2023 dated 09-01-2023, to remove all the identified encroachments and achieve “100% target” by 31st January 2023. He has asked the DCs to submit daily progress of the retrieval of State land and Kahcharai land, as per a format, through respective Divisional Commissioners every evening.
In a resultant development Naib Tehsildar Darhal, Rajouri has issued a circular dated 09-01-2023 and directed all the alleged encroachers to dismantle all unauthorised structures and surrender the same lands within a week’s time. He has warned them that in case of their failure, the Government would demolish these structures and recover the full cost of the demolition from the occupiers.
Reports said that similar circulars have been issued by Tehsildars and Naib Tehsildars in different areas. Most of the politicians and a section of the civil society have been highly critical of the authorities’ orders and way of retrieving the lands.