I would like to draw your attention to a gross misuse of law and public office by state officials in the Custodian and Police department that has resulted in the forced homelessness of an elderly couple.
This matter is now currently sub judiciary but I have highlighted those aspects of the problem that ought to be addressed by your office to safeguard the reputation of the state machinery.
Before I wrote this letter, I was advised by most of my friends that I was wasting my time as nothing is going to change by writing this letter in a state which has legendary reputation in corruption, mass graves, disappearances, injustice and human rights abuses. But I decided to write this letter with this believe that anyone with a shred of conscience can see the injustice and will feel the pain of an elderly couple who have been removed from the comfort of their home of 15 years and made homeless at the speed of light by the misuse of office by state officials who obviously don’t feel accountable to anyone for their unlawful activities.
I believe this will make an uncomfortable reading for anyone with moral values and humanity left within them. Besides one of the reasons for writing this letter to you is that every time I watch you speak on TV, I believe there is an element of genuineness about you and I hope that you will prove by friends wrong who have firm belief that nothing is going to change due to this letter.
I would appreciate if your good self could read this letter with empathy and emotional intelligence to understand this situation through the eyes of a son and his ageing parents who have been made homeless by the underhand deals of your state officials in the Custodian and Police department.
You may notice below that I do not have a permanent home address in Kashmir now due to courtesy of your state officials in Custodian and Police departments who have made my parents homeless. I would like to request you to send any future correspondence to my email address only which is mentioned below.
I will also be providing the copy of this letter to local newspapers as they have already published numerous reports around the events that made my ageing parents homeless. I also believe that the media has an important role in making our state officials accountable to the Public.
I would like to outline the following facts to demonstrate how Custodian department officials have violated the Law and conducted underhand deals to favour a particular officer in the Police department.
Leased property details
1. That the Custodian department leased out a custodian property, situated at Bhagat Barzulla near Gurdwara Shaheed Banga Srinagar, to me in 1999 for a period of 40 years. The lease period is only due to expire in year 2039.
2. That I have been paying my rent for said house to the Custodian department regularly and sometimes in advance. Currently my rent is paid in advance until March 2012.
3. That in the year 2008 I paid a premium of Rs. 30.000/- at the request of the Custodian General who reconfirmed that I am a long-term leaseholder of said property. I was the only leaseholder in our neighbourhood of six Custodian houses who paid this premium.
4. That over the past 12 years I have spent more than Rs.10 lakhs on renovation and maintenance of the property with the belief that my dependent family and I will be living in the said property for the stipulated lease period of 40 years.
5. That I never claimed any compensation from the concerned department for the money spent on renovation and maintenance of the property which, over the years, has been maintained to a high standard at my own expense.
6. That my parents, Mr & Mrs Ghulam Nabi Latoo originally from Maisuma Amira Kadal Srinagar, who are dependent on me both financially and emotionally, were living in the leased house until 13th December 2011. There is no clause in the Custodian rules that prevents the use of the allocated house by my dependent family, as it would be breach of family life.
7. That my father, Mr Ghulam Nabi Latoo, a dependent family member who has been living in the house for last 15 years, is the holder of my registered Power of Attorney to use and maintain the house, pay the rent, and enter into any legal/lease agreements on my behalf with Custodian/other departments.
8. That as part of my fundamental right to practice and pursue my profession/career and right to free movement and travel, I am currently outside the country to pursue higher education and further professional development.
Show Cause Notice
9. That on 8th December 2011 my dependent ageing parents were served Show Cause Notice asking them to explain why our lease should not be terminated on the grounds that I am currently outside the country and that my mother owns a house.
10. Despite the fact that the Show Cause Notice was dated 3rd of December 2011, we were served notice only on 8th December 2011 to explain ourselves before the Custodian department by 10th December 2011. There was a malign intention to delay the delivery of the Show Cause Notice to my parents so that my frail ageing parents were unable to challenge the Show Cause Notice in the court of Law.
11. As demanded at very short notice in the Show Cause Notice, we submitted our reply on 10th Dec 2011 at the Custodian department in Srinagar.
12. In our reply we pleaded that in return of the allocation of the property by the Custodian department to me, I have not surrendered my fundamental right of pursuing my career/profession, fundamental right of freedom of movement/travel and right to family life. We emphasised that as part of my fundamental right to practice and pursue my profession/career and right to free movement and travel, I am currently outside country to pursue higher training and further professional development. After completion of my further professional development I hope to return back to the state when there are appropriate job opportunities. This is particularly important, as there are currently insufficient educational and employment opportunities available in Kashmir.
13. We also highlighted that the house mentioned in the Show Cause notice is currently inhabitable as it is still under construction and will require substantial financial capital and time to complete the construction. Moreover, the area where the house under question is constructed is devoid of civic amenities such as water supply, electricity and drainage system yet and it may take few years for that area to be habitable for frail ageing people such as my parents.
Forceful illegal eviction of my dependent ageing parents
14. That on 13th December 2011 the Custodian department, along with 50 Police Officers, personally evicted my ageing parents without providing any legal order. With total disregard to human dignity, my ageing parents, in this harsh freezing winter, were virtually thrown out on the roads despite repeated beseeching and pleas.
15. The Custodian department, with total disregard for the legal procedure, did not notify us of the outcome of our reply to their Show Cause Notice that we submitted on 10th December 2011.
16. We were never provided with any lease cancellation order by the custodian department before the eviction on 13th Dec 2011.
17. That in total disregard of fundamental rights and the Right to Information, the Custodian department and the local police station refused to provide us with a copy of the eviction order which is necessary for further legal action. This is in clear violation of law and the agreement that already exists between the concerned parties.
The impact of the eviction on my ageing parents
18. That currently my dependent parents do not have any access to any alternative habitable accommodation, and by making these ageing citizens homeless they have been made vulnerable to various psychological and physical traumas.
19. The forceful and sudden illegal eviction of my parents from the leased property has had profound psychological impact on my frail parents. As a doctor I am fully aware that moving house under normal conditions is generally considered the second most stressful event in any person’s life. I would like you to please imagine the psychological trauma that my parents are undergoing after being forcefully evicted from their house and now made homeless.
20. That my parents have been made homeless at this age. They felt helpless, hopeless and traumatised in front of powerful, unaccountable and unprofessional officials of the Custodian and Police department.
21. My parent’s possessions were thrown onto the road in the harsh winter cold. They have not only lost their possessions but have lost faith in their State officials who have acted in breach of their fundamental duty of providing protection and assistance to vulnerable people. Treatment of my parents can only be labelled inhuman and appalling
Rights of my ageing vulnerable parents
I believe a society can only be called civilised if it treats its vulnerable people (e.g. elderly people, children, women and minority community) equally with respect and dignity. My parents were humiliated in the harsh winter, evicted from their house after 15 years despite having a valid lease until 2039, paying rent regularly in advance and maintaining the property in very good condition at their own expense.
22. As my dependents, my parents were legally living in the house leased out to me until 2039 as I have right to a family life.
23. At present my parents do not have any access to alternative habitable accommodation and these ageing citizens have been made homeless which makes them more vulnerable to various psychological and physical hardships despite having valid Lease
24. As State Subjects my parents have the fundamental right to be treated equally by the law.
25. As State Subjects my parents, in their own right, are also eligible to apply for the allocation of Custodian properties irrespective of their employment, educational or social status.
26. They should be the first people to be considered for any new lease agreement, if necessary. This is particularly important as my parents have been living in this custodian house for last 15 years, have been paying rent regularly and maintaining the property in good condition at their cost. Besides a valid Power of Attorney allows my father to enter into valid Lease agreements with the custodian department.
Special Tribunal Court Stay Order dated 16th December 2011
27. My parents managed to challenge the illegal eviction from the leased property, and Honourable Court of Special Tribunal at Srinagar stayed the actions of the Custodian department on 15th December 2011 and ordered the parties to maintain status quo as existed on 3rd December 2011.
28. The Custodian department was provided with the copy of the Stay Order on 16th December 2011.
29. The Custodian department deliberately delayed the implementation of the Court Order. The Custodian department failed to implement the Court Order until 19th December 2011 despite receiving the copy of the Special Tribunal Court Order on 16th December 2011.
High Court challenge by Mr Sheikh Faisal Qayoom (DSP Police department)
30. On 19th December 2011, to our utter surprise, we were informed by the High Court Srinagar that a person named Mr Sheikh Faisal Qayoom (DSP J & K Police) had challenged the Special Tribunal Court Stay Order dated 16th December 2011 in our favour, on the grounds that the house has been leased out to him on 14th December 2011, one day after my parents were evicted from the property on 13th December 2011.
31. For the first time, on 19th December 2011, the High Court also provided us with a copy of my Lease Cancellation Order dated 12th December 2011 that we were never informed of by the Custodian department.
32. It is apparent to us that events unfolded at the ‘speed of light’ to allow the allocation of this property to Mr Sheikh Faisal Qayoom despite the property being leased to us for 40 years.
Sequence of events at ‘speed of light’
Any person with the brain size of a monkey can understand that the following sequence of the events were choreographed to favour a particular person and the entire state machinery (custodian department, police department and possibly others with more power) worked overtime at the speed of the light to make my dependent parents homeless and vulnerable to all hardships.
The whole process of eviction of my parents and allocation of the house to Mr Faisal Sheikh by the custodian department with the help of police within a period of three days resembles an underhand deal.
33. The Custodian department issues a show cause notice to us on 3rd December 2011 which is only delivered to us by hand on Thursday 8th December 2011. There was a malign intention to delay the delivery of the Show Cause Notice.
34. We submitted our response to the Show Cause Notice on Saturday 10th December 2011 as demanded by the Custodian department in the Show Cause Notice.
35. Sunday 11th December 2011 is a holiday.
36. On Monday 12th December 2011 the Custodian department cancelled our Lease but did not inform us or provide us with the copy of the cancellation order that could have been challenged in the court.
37. On Tuesday 13th December 2011, without any notice or warning, my dependent parents were evicted with the help of entire Police Force. The Custodian department and Police Station Bhagat Barzulla refused to provide us with a copy of Eviction Order.
38. On Wednesday 14th December 2011 the Custodian department allocated the house to Mr Sheikh Faisal Qayoom.
39. On Thursday 15th December 2011, we challenged the illegal eviction in the Special Tribunal Court Srinagar and the court passed a Stay Order and ordered status quo between the parties (Custodian and us) as existed on 03/12/2011.
40. On Friday 16th December 2011 the Custodian was provided with a copy of the Special Tribunal Court Order. The Custodian General and Custodian Kashmir verbally assured us that the Special Tribunal Court Order would be implemented in full on Saturday 17th December 2011
41. On Saturday 17th December 2011 the Custodian Kashmir did not attend to his office. The Custodian General assured us again by phone that he would ensure that the Custodian Kashmir implemented the Tribunal Order on 19th December 2011.
42. Sunday 18th December 2011 is a holiday.
43. On Monday 19th December 2011, Mr Sheikh Faisal Qayoom challenged the Special Tribunal Order because the house was allocated to him on 14th Dec 2011. We were never informed by Custodian department about this. Surprisingly he already had copies of our lease cancellation order dated 12th Dec 2011 and eviction order dated 13th Dec 2011 which were never provided to us by custodian department even after the eviction of my parents. Whole process was well orchestrated to speed up the process of allocating house to the police officer even before my parents had chance to approach the court to challenge the lease cancellation order.
My concerns that require your immediate attention and action
The custodian department is abusing its authority and violating the Law at the behest of and in connivance with a police officer who is transgressing and violating basic fundamental rights by making my ageing parents homeless and has managed to get this property allocated in his name at the speed of light. We would like your good self to:
1. Investigate the role of the Custodian department in breaking various laws by evicting my dependent parents without following the normal legal procedure of cancellation of lease and eviction by –
a. Delaying the delivery of the Show Cause Notice that was dated 3rd December 2011 but delivered only on 8th December 2011.
b. Not responding to our reply we submitted on 10th December 2011 in response to the Show Cause Notice.
c. Cancelling my 40-year lease on 12th December 2011 without informing us or providing us with the copy of cancellation order.
d. Evicting my parents on 13th December 2011 forcefully without any warning/notice period and again not handing over the copy of the lease cancellation order dated 12th Dec 2011 and eviction order dated 13th Dec 2011.
e. Then allocating the house to Mr Sheikh Faisal Qayoom on 14th December 2011.
2. Investigate the alleged role of the Police Officer as reported to us repeatedly by Custodian department in misusing his authority, terrorizing innocent people, trampling on fundamental rights of people, and how he managed to choreograph these events at such a rapid pace. It is highly unlikely that a DSP ranking police officer can on his own choreograph these events and force IAS ranking officers to turn blind eye to the normal legal procedure of cancellation of a long lease and subsequent eviction of my parents from the leased property.
3. Fundamentally, how and why did the whole system work at the ‘speed of the light’ to allocate the house to the Police Officer.
4. The attention of the your government and the concerned authorities is solicited to address this grave, inhumane and barbaric act and injustice meted out to my ageing parents by rehabilitating them with dignity and honour and reallocating the house to them.
Thank you for attending to this matter.
Dr Javed Latoo, Managing Editor, British Journal of Medical Practitioners (BJMP). Email at: Javedlatoo@gmail.com