Land sharks eat up Defence land in J&K

Land sharks eat up Defence land in J&K

730 acres encroached upon, claims Army

Land sharks have encroached upon Defence land running into hundreds of acres at various places in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources told Deccan Herald that the land has been encroached upon by an influential land mafia mostly during the period of militancy. 

The official documents reveal that at least 730 acres prime land has been encroached upon whose value is estimated into several hundred crores, they said.

Majority of the encroached land is located in Jammu and Kashmir regions while the encroachments are less in cold desert Ladakh region.

Sources said most of the land encroachment took place during the militancy period when the Army was busy in anti-insurgency operations and some units had moved to the Line of Control (LoC) to check infiltration. The land mafia with the help of state revenue authorities, in some cases, removed Army pillars and grabbed the land.The task was executed mostly by civilians, sources said.

A senior Army official while admitting that encroachment of 730 acres of land was a serious issue, said, “The matter has already been taken up by the concerned defence authorities with local administration at the highest level. However, till now state authorities have failed to evict the civilian encroachers.”

Admitting that the process could take time, he said, “Civil administration, in some cases, has to address the issues of the civilians before getting the encroachers evicted from the land.”

A state revenue officer, requesting anonymity, said they were helpless in evicting the encroachers. 

“There is possibility of protests if we try to evict the civilian encroachers. In such cases separatists could also exploit the situation which forces us to think twice before taking any action,” he said. 

In October 2011, an internal probe by the Defence Ministry found that private parties were allowed to buy more than 200 acres of land near sensitive military installations in Srinagar on the basis of no-objection certificates (NoCs) that were granted fraudulently.

The probe had pointed at collusion among officials of the Defence Estates department, state government and land sharks who got together to sell the land on the fringes of the high-security air force station and 15 Corps headquarters in Srinagar.

On 11 May 2012, after the CBI registered FIR into the scam, simultaneous raids were carried out by its sleuths in Jammu, Srinagar, Patna and Delhi regarding Srinagar defence land scam. 

The CBI had named Ajay Chowdhary, a 1997-batch Defence Estates Official, and others in the FIR registered under the IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act