The Jammu and Kashmir government has embarked on a massive anti-encroachment drive across the union territory. Over the past few decades, the successive governments had failed to take any serious action against all the land grabbers.
Now, such drives are being conducted in every district of Kashmir valley as well as Jammu region. The government, in the latest drive, has so far retrieved five lakh kanals of land out of 22 lakh kanals in total. Earlier, the authorities had retrieved 10 lakh kanals of the land.
Notably, a huge chunk of land is being retrieved from the influential families and persons that had remained at the helm in the past. Now, few sections are claiming that the poorer sections of the society too are being targeted as part of the ongoing drive. However, Chief Secretary, Dr Arun Kumar Mehta on Thursday remarked that the encroached State land is being retrieved from the ‘big vested interests only’ with the purpose of reverting it back for public use. Around 40 kanals of land were retrieved from Nedou’s Hotel.
This property belongs to the close kin of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah.
A structure owned by National Conference General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar’s wife at Airport road was also demolished after it was found to have been constructed on encroached land. The government also retrieved the state land occupied by former J&K Congress chief Peerzada Mohammad Syeed, the family of former minister Syed Farooq Andrabi, and the heirs of former chief minister Syed Mir Qasim. The revenue department then demolished the outer wall of orchard land belonging to the family of a deputy inspector general rank officer in Mattan.
Stating that no person has any legal right to usurp the rights of commoners, the Chief Secretary further pointed out that such measures should be supported by the public as the retrieved land shall be used for public utility such as hospitals, schools, play grounds, bus stands, Industries, parking spaces etc.
The Chief Secretary also passed directions to the Deputy Commissioners to safeguard the habitations and livelihoods of poor and downtrodden. He has also stated that some people are voluntarily giving up the encroached lands.
The government’s intention of not making the common man suffer was made clear during the recent sealing of shops in Srinagar’s Aftab Market. All sealed shops in Aftab Market were later reopened on Thursday bringing cheers to the traders. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had previously stated that the common masses and poor people wouldn’t be touched. “Common man and poor people wouldn’t be touched by the administration. The government is concerned to safeguard the interests of poor people,” he had said. He had also said that the influential people misused their positions and encroached on state land in violation of the laws.
Sinha had made it clear there were directions from the High Court to retrieve state land from encroachers. Later on January 9, the government then directed all deputy commissioners to ensure 100 per cent removal of encroachments.