Encroachments on forest land

No amount of prudence nor any grain of civility would ever call it any less than looting or thieving – so much forest land by so many people in Jammu and Kashmir. All these years, these encroachers camouflaging as ”gentlepersons” have been quite adamant and stubborn in their attitude to vacate the illegal grab of the prime land, otherwise producing ‘Green Gold’. Since the Division Bench of the High Court is hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in respect of the unprecedented encroachment of a vast area of the precious forest land in the length and breadth of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir by thousands of people , to be precise 64,000 as per the list provided by the Forest Department and as such the said loot of the forest land having come in public attention and awareness, no process of any type of smoke and mirrors by the encroachers or those who were proving of some sort of shield to them,would save them from an imminent legal action. In a bold and historic direction of the Division Bench, which everybody will surely welcome wholeheartedly, is that no court in the Union Territory shall take any cognizance of any issue withregard to any claim or any matter associated with the encroachment of the forest land with intention to get temporary relief, reprieve, stay or any typeof deferring of the process of retrieval of the public land.
It is pertinent to note that the Forest Department had been, under one pretext or the other, causing delays, avoidance, deferment and every sort of protraction of providing to the court, the listwith particulars of encroachments and the names and the number of such encroachers. Now, after being reprimanded many a time by the highest court of the Union Territory , full details have recently been provided to the court. In this connection on Sept 3, 2020, directions were issued by the Division Bench headed by the Chief Justice which resulted in submission of a comprehensive report comprising 3000 pages containing the list of encroachers who had thieved the forest land in so much a wide magnitude. It is , however, pertinent to note that another part of the important directive of the court to all other departments of the UT is that there should be no attempt of any sort to cause any change in the records or the physical status of the land which has been identified by the Forest Department to be under encroachment.
With the details now having been furnished by the Forest Department , we are likely in the processto know about how many and which former Ministers, legislators, bureaucrats, influential persons and other politicians were among the encroachers . It is despite the fact that names of ”VIPs” have not beenseparatelyreflected . However, the court has, with emphasis, asked the Advocate General and Deputy Advocate General to find out the VIP encroachers from out of the list submitted by the Forest Department. However, it was submitted before the court that the list being voluminous , it was going to take some time to find out the number of VIPs but the court directed the same to be submitted in the next date of hearing . Since it is presumed that just to protect the VIPs, particulars may have been submitted in someone else’s name , perusing the list carefully by the respondents for knowing the same is imperative before submitting the same to the court.
It is without any ambiguitythat encroachment on such a large scale by so many people could have not been possible without active connivance of the authorities in the Revenue and Forest departments and full patronage of political influence , and that also in just in a few days or months but over many years in a row thus attaining the form of a huge scam and a massive fraud.