Land encroachers become owners of forest land

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, May 16: It may sound incredible to many but it is true that land encroachers have turned owners of over 12 kanal, 11 marla prime forest land near Highway in Kalai area of district Poonch.
Surprisingly, this all happened due to the connivance of some Forest and Revenue officials who just gifted this prime land worth crores to some influential people of the area by making fraudulent entries in the Revenue record and also surrendering claim despite the fact that they had been thrown out by the Forest officers during their attempt to grab this Forest land initially.
These startling revelations came to light after the scrutiny of the record from the Forest and the Revenue departments. Once this area was part of Forest Compartment No. 239, Haveli. The record revealed that the lawful eviction from the said land was done by the then DFO Poonch M B Mughal and his team after he came to know from his field staff that Mohd Sadiq, Mohd Arif, Ahmed Din and others allegedly encroached upon nearly 24 kanal area adjoining Khasra No. 1247/ 1246 in January 1997. The order of Estate Officer was implemented in letter and spirit and it was entered in red ink in the record. As per Forest Settlement Record, it was Forest land under Haveli Range. Under order No. 255-59 DID 22-1-1995, three structures raised by land grabbers were also demolished by Forest Department team.
The land encroachers a few years later, when this staff got transferred, started their activities and again re-grabbed some portion of this land gradually by breaching forest fencing. They also raised two structures. Then in connivance with some Revenue officials they managed fraudulent mutation of nearly 12 kanal and 11 marla of land in their possession and got entries under LB 6 on Khasra No. 1246.
In the meantime, they also moved to a local court and by mis-presentation of facts got stay orders and managed to become owner of the land gradually. While the revenue officials taking advantage of LB 6, made them owners of the Forest land which otherwise they were not entitled to and the some Forest officials who joined hands with them ignored to represent the case in the court and also contest against Revenue authorities.
Though, some local Forest officials flashed representation to the then CCF Jammu vide letter No. 170/13/En-CC Dt 18-9-2013 but the Forest officials at the top also maintained criminal silence and the Forest land worth over Rs 3 crore was virtually gifted to these people by the officials at the helm of affairs under Mutation No. 627/S of Tehsildar Haveli and the land encroachers were made owners with just one stroke of pen by the then Revenue officer.
Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), Jammu Farooq Geelani when contacted said that he will direct Conservator of Forests West Circle, Jammu to conduct an inquiry into the matter and initiate process for eviction of those families from the Forest land.
When asked why the then Forest staff remained mute spectator when illegal activities were going on at Forest land there, the CCF said he will ask the officers concerned to produce the actual record. He said the matter will also be taken up with the senior Revenue officers including Deputy Commissioner Poonch and Divisional Commissioner Jammu if their lower staff was found involved in tampering of the forest land record taking benefit of LB 6, which is not applicable in case of forest demarcated land.
Deputy Commissioner, Poonch MH Malik when contacted said, ” No such case pertaining to Kalai has come to his notice but if Forest department moves a complaint/ an appeal before me I will definitely take cognizance of the matter. Not only, Forest department, any citizen can file such complaint and its notice will be taken.”
Mr Malik further said that he has already quashed many cases of such nature in district Poonch and he will definitely set it aside to correct the record if any Revenue official has done wrong entry. They shall also be penalized for it. The DC said that even SDM, ACD and Additional DC are competent to quash such wrong entries and take corrective measures.
This is not a single case where entry of Forest land has been replaced with the name of land grabbers. In most of the cases Forest officials go silent for their vested interests and the Revenue officials by tempering with the record declare the land encroachers as the owners and also become silent partners of the said land, the sources added.


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