Essential land records from Lawrence’s time safe

Excelsior Correspondent

SRINAGAR, Oct 3: The employees of the Land Records Department have successfully saved the essential land records of the Kashmir valley by acting on time and shifting it to the first floor of the office building in Bemina.
In-charge Officer Central Record Room of the department, Javiad Iqbal, told Excelsior that they have saved the land records of the last 150 years of Kashmir region before floodwaters could destroy it.
Housed in the flood prone area, the building was inundated by floods in 2006 and some vital land records were destroyed. Being aware of importance of these land records, about 20 employees working here did not leave the office until they kept the records safe in the first floor of the building.
On September 3, when low-lying areas of the Bemina were flooded, Iqbal and his other officemates started shifting the records.
The nearby buildings of Hajj House and SKIMS hospital, Bemina were already inundated.
For the next two days, on September 4 and 5, Iqbal and the other 20 employees stayed put and emptied the four rooms where the records were kept.
“We knew that floodwater will enter the building and damage whole Valley’s land records. We didn’t want to act as in 2006 when some essential land records were lost to the flood,” he said.
“The documents have no back up and if any of these records were lost, it would have opened up Pandora’s box. Many people would come and lay claim on any part of the land,” he said.
Maps of the land are drawn on special cloth, known as Aksi Latha and Aksi Rampuri. “By no way we could have retrieved back the maps as the slush would have erased all the drawings,” he said.
“The employees whose houses were in flood didn’t care for their household goods. Some of them who are putting up at the department’s quarters in its premises lost all their household items”, said Iqbal.
“We didn’t get the time to save our household items as we could have easily carried them to the first floor of the buildings. Saving the records was our priority,” the officer said.
Farooq Ahmad, a daily wager in the department, who lives in Anantnag and his house was damaged due to the floods, stood with Iqbal and did most of the work to save the records.
Though floods have spared the land records, what is worrying the employees like Iqbal is the insecure building. All its brick walls have collapsed due to the raging floodwaters. But the Government has left it without security. No policeman has been kept here to guard the building.
“Anybody can come and enter the building from any side and can do any damage to the records. The insecurity to the records is making us anxious,” Iqbal said.

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