The Bold Voice of J&K

Harsh dares Govt to remove encroachments from Bathindi, Sidhra, Sunjwan

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JAMMU: Quoting the famous saying that “cleansing of staircase must always begin from the top” , Harsh Dev Singh, Chairman JKNPP and former Minister, on Wednesday called upon the ministers, legislators and bureaucrats to come clean on the issue of encroachments before harassing or initiating eviction or criminal proceedings against poor, hapless, un-influential villagers and homeless people.
He said that though the illegal encroachments on state and forests lands were required to be removed, the selective action against poor and marginalized sections, to the exclusion of privileged classes was highly reprehensible.
Referring to the eviction of indigent masses including poor labourers, nomads and tribals who were living in temporary shelters on Forest and other lands in remote areas of the state including dismantling and bull dozing habitations by the Forest Department functionaries, Singh questioned as to how and why the palatial mansions constructed on Forest land by politicians and top bureaucrats had been granted immunity from legal and departmental action.
Pointing towards several cases wherein the poor nomads and indigent villagers had been rendered landless and shelter less due to their eviction by the Forest Department, Singh charged the very same officials of providing all support in encroachments to mighty and the powerful.
He said that hundreds of such poor families putting up in the said shelters for as long as six decades were dispossessed and their habitations dismantled by those govt. functionaries who had contrarily helped the influential by all means to raise palatial bunglows on forest land.
Making a particular mention of some of the prime residential colonies and other concrete structures developed by the powerful politicians by encroachment and consequent destruction of Forests, Singh dared the Forest Department to retrieve the Forest land from the Ministers, MLAs, MLCs and other bureaucrats in areas like Bathindi, Sunjwan, Chowadi, Nagrota, Bajalta, Roop Nagar, Bantalab etc in the vicinity of Jammu city.
He said that several thousands of kanals of Forests land had been encroached by politicians and their cronies in the said areas mostly belonging to other districts and Kashmir Division and who had raised huge residential and commercial complexes in collusion with the functionaries of Forest Department with the Forest officers having provided even financial assistance for raising such constructions. It was a case of ‘quid pro quo’ as the Forest officers provided financial and other support to their political masters and got prized postings in return.
Asserting that politicians and bureaucrats were not above law, Singh sought appropriate action against all Ministers, legislators and bureaucrats who had encroached Forests in conformity with the principles of law and equity together with an enquiry against the Forests officers who had allowed such constructions by tempering and damaging records. He further cautioned the Forest Department that the forests were not the ‘Jagirs’ or personal fief-down of Minister or of forests officers who were supposed to apply same yard sticks with all encroachers without any bias, ill will, prejudice and without any regard for the office or position held by the offenders. Describing the selective action of Forest Department against poor villagers in remote areas as ‘cowardice’, besides “political corruption” of the highest order, Singh dared the govt. to ensure vacation of the entire 2.5 lakh kanals of Forest land occupied by Forests Mafia and 20 lakh kanals of state land under illegal possession of land mafia and influential people as had been revealed by the government itself in Assembly.

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