From what the Legislative Assembly has been told, it is now established that nearly 11 lakh kanals State, Nazool and Evacuee Property land is still under encroachments in State. The worst part is that there is no hope of its retrieval in near future despite change in the Governments. These encroachments are not just a recent phenomenon; illegal occupation of lands of various categories is carried from regime to regime. A PIL has also been filed and the Division Bench of the High Court is also grappling with the issue. However, all said and done, there appears no immediate possibility that these illegally occupied lands will be retrieved soon. The matter is bound to stretch over two decades and even then a solution may not be in sight.
The question is why not the Government is able to vacate illegal occupation of the lands. It is a bizarre story. The Division Bench of the High Court called both the Divisional Commissioners in the court to convey to them the severe reprimand for not doing their job with precision in regard to land mafia encroaching upon Government, Nazool or Evacuee Property lands in all the three regions of the State. The Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu, sat down and prepared a document in 13 volumes containing the district-wise encroachments and the list of encroachers.
In the month of February last year the High Court issued clear directions to the Divisional Commissioners to take all steps of evacuating the encroached lands as per the lists they had made. It sounds strange that the Divisional Commissioners, instead of taking the follow up action almost slept over the matter and did not move their finger. We have been able to obtain the district-wise details of these encroachments in both divisions. It gives frightening picture of how there is a general loot of the State land property and how the State is standing a mute witness to it. Isn’t it a matter of shame that the Government chooses to remain indifferent when its property meaning public property is vandalized and turned into private property not in one district or one region but all over the State excluding Ladakh. Why have the Divisional Commissioners chosen to be silent and not move the Government machinery under the orders of the High Court.
The point is that the land mafia is too strong to be dislodged particularly when it has moles in the Government. Grape vine has it that some highly influential and powerful personalities with strong clout in the Government are involved in the land racket and as such it becomes difficult for the administration to do anything that jeopardizes their interests. It will be a sad commentary on a Government that is so week-kneed as not to be able to protect the State property and public interests. Succumbing to intimidation and reprisals or afraid of strong reaction on enforcing the law of the land is clear symptoms of imbecility of the Government in power. Nothing can absolve such a Government of its endemic inertia and palpable signs of favouritism. If any of the regimes in our State had the will to bring about retrieval of illegally occupied State land to whoever category it belonged, it would have happened long ago. But as it did not happen and the issue continues to hang fire, naturally and historically speaking the onus falls on the shoulders of the Government in power.