The campaign came days after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court declared the ‘Lights Act’ illegal and unconstitutional.
Ground Report | New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir government evicted Gujjar family from an alleged ‘migrant property’ of a Kashmiri Pandit in Ramnagari area of the south Kashmir’s Shopian district. The Gurjar community showed resistance, however, the revenue team guarded by the police was successful in capturing more than 11 kanals of land.
News Agency KNT reported that a revenue team under police protection led by Kanjiullar Ghulam Nabi, Naib Tehsildar of Shopian, went out for land acquisition in Ramnagari village of Shopian. The land allegedly belongs to Pandit Triloki Nath, a Kashmiri migrant.
Sources said that as soon as the revenue team tried to capture the land, the four brothers who were occupying the land protested, however, after some time, they gave up and the land was captured.
The ‘Numberdar’ of the village was made the caretaker of the said acquired land. Local sources said that the four brothers who were in possession of the land are actually residents of Rajouri and are currently living in Ramnagari Shopian. When contacted, an official said that they are implementing the court orders. “The double bench had directed DC Shopian to implement the order and take possession of this migrant property,” he said.
Local sources said that the matter is pending in the High Court. He said that the Single Bench had passed the order in favor of the four brothers occupying the land, however, the Double Bench recently ordered that the land be taken over without any delay.
No Relief For Nomads Of J&K
In early November, a video of a hut being demolished in the hills of Pahalgam went viral on social media. Officials claimed that the drive was launched in response to a July 2019 High Court order calling on the administration to recover encroached forest land. The nomads use dokas (mud sheds) when they migrate with their herds to the hills in summer.
In other Pahalgam videos that have gone viral on social media, some forest department officials, along with police, were seen removing fences and demolishing brick houses in the foothills near a famous resort in south Kashmir.
The campaign came days after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court declared the ‘Lights Act’ illegal and unconstitutional. The scheme, launched in 2001, allowed the ownership of government land owned by a few people in exchange for a fixed amount.
The scheme envisaged conferring ownership rights of about 20.55 lakh kanals (2.56 lakh acres) of land to earn a target of Rs 25,000 crore for investment in hydroelectric projects. Later, a Comptroller and Auditor General’s report estimated that only Rs 76 crore was recovered from the transfer of land to private ownership, against the targeted Rs 25,000 crore.
The scheme had also been in dispute over allegations of irregularities in the transfer of land. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court in October declared the Roshni Act “totally unconstitutional, contrary to law and untenable” and ordered a probe into the ‘land scam’ by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Half of the state’s tribals are nomads
For the rights of Scheduled Tribes in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, there is a movement to implement the Forest Rights Act 2006. About half of the state’s tribals are nomads. There are 12 scheduled tribes in the state. Of these, eight are in Ladakh, and the remaining four in Kashmir and Jammu region.
According to the 2011 census, their share in the state’s population is 14 lakh or about 11 percent. About 90 percent of their population are Gujjars (about 9 lakhs) and Bakarwals (about two lakhs). Mukhtar Ahmed Choudhary, secretary of the State Advisory Board for the development of Gujjars and Bakarwals, says that 90 percent of the Gujjar population has settled but the Bakarwals are completely nomadic. They are at the bottom of the social and economic ladder.
The practices of the Forest Department ignore the nomadic communities. The department sees the shepherds as a problem. For example, the Rajouri Forest Division’s Working Plan (2014-15 to 2023-24) states, “The problem of grazing of permanent and migratory animals in this division of forest area has been there since time immemorial.
The grazing in this area is unscientific, unregulated, and unregulated. This has badly affected the regeneration of Chir and caused damage to the vegetation in the area.” Other forest divisions also hold a similar view.