In 2002, their land was ‘forcibly’ occupied by the Army.
Nine years after, the inhabitants of Fakirpora, a hamlet in Drugmulla-Kupwara, are still waiting for the Army to vacate 62 kanals of their land or pay the necessary compensation.
“It was January 2002 when army told us that they want our land. When we refused, curfew was imposed and shoot at sight orders were announced. We were not allowed to move out for three days and after the cordon was lifted, we found our lands fenced and circled with barricades,” says Javid Ahmad, a villager.
The land which at present is under the occupation of army was the lone source of sustenance for most of the villagers. “We have 19- kanals of land. Mere two kanals are in our possession now. The rest 17 were taken by army. Not a single person in our family of 12 has a government job. We used to earning our meals by cultivating land. But after we were dispossessed of it, we had to live a life full of miseries,” says Majeed.
Mala Begum, a 50 year old physically challenged widow, who walks with the aid of a crutch, attributes her husband’s death to the ‘strains’ caused by the loss of land to army. “My husband died only because of the extreme strains caused by the loss of land. I live all alone now as I don’t have any son or daughter who can look after me at this stage,” she says.
The villagers also claim that have approached everyone from former Chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to Omar Abdullah and conveyed their grievances, only to be disappointed.
“We approached every official of civil administration as well as army who are linked to this case, but they evade this issue by presenting different alibis,” adds another villager, Showket.
Meanwhile, MLA Kupwara Mir Saifullah said he had taken up this issue with the Chief Minister, chief secretary and several other officials in this regard. However, he said the ‘the truth is that it doesn’t lie in the hands of state’. “I am not sitting idle. I am making and will make every possible effort to ensure the full compensation of their land but it will take some time,” he added.
According to current market rates, one kanal of land in the area costs eight to ten lakh rupee rupees. Besides land compensation, the villagers are also demanding the rental charges from the day of land takeover.