After Roshni beneficiary list is out, J-K govt seeks review of judgment

Why does the Jammu and Kashmir government want a review of a judgment which the BJP calls “surgical strike” against corruption and “land Jihad”?

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has been taking credit for the 9 October 2020 High Court judgement on Roshni calling it BJP’s “surgical strike on land Jihad”. But once the lists started to come out and it became clear that the major beneficiary of this scheme is in fact their own constituency, they now want a review of the HC judgment. This is hypocrisy par excellence. The affidavit filed by Jammu and Kashmir government says that “large number of common people would suffer unintentionally”. 
 
The most shocking revelation is that the government affidavit wants to make a distinction between common people and wealthy and influential individuals. How will the Court define who are “common people” or “wealthy and influential”? Neither Indian Penal Code (IPC) or CRPC recognises the economic situation of a party as the basis of determining criminality. There is no legal definition of “influential” and there is every likelihood that these new categories would be defined to serve a particular narrative. Besides, either you have broken the law or not?
 
The J-K government needs to explain what action has been taken against the top officials who have already been booked by Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) for brazenly violating Roshni act to illegally transfer government land. Why has the government not acted against even one such official while it has been evicting people from their homes without any consideration in Kashmir?
 
What should happen? Now that facts on ground are completely opposite to this vicious campaign demonising and falsely accusing Muslim population of J-K particularly Kashmiris as main beneficiaries of Roshni Act, the government cannot suddenly change its tone. This new move to bring in two categories of beneficiaries of Roshni act – one those who need to be acted upon and the second who shouldn’t face eviction – is mala fide. The action cannot and must not be selective. Let the entire state land that has been unauthorisedly occupied be retrieved.
 
Why do they want a review of a judgment which BJP calls “surgical strike” against corruption and “land Jihad”. Here are few facts:
 
While an impression was mischievously created that Muslims and particularly Kashmiris are the main beneficiaries of this scheme, the data revealed that an overwhelming number of beneficiaries of this scheme are in Jammu. Total land approved for transfer under Roshni – 6,04,602 kanals across J&K. Among this, 5,71,210 kanals in Jammu and 33,392 kanals in Kashmir. Actual transfer has happened in 3.48 lakh kanals – 3.15 lakh kanals in Jammu, 33 thousand kanals in Kashmir. And as many among the approved haven’t paid, their papers haven’t been issued.
 
The people living on forest land particularly across Jammu province (who are among the beneficiaries of Roshni) are primarily from Gujjar and Bakerwal communities. They cannot be evicted because their right on forest land is protected by Forest Act, 2006. So once the eviction process is carried forward, the axe will eventually fall on those who have fraudulently taken over prime land like in Marble market in Jammu city. This is contrary to the narrative created regarding Roshni.
 
There is a distinction between land under unauthorised occupation and land that was under lease that was regularised under Roshni. In Srinagar where around 250 kanals of land Was transferred under Roshni from 498 kanals that we’re approved by the government under this scheme, most of this land was under leasehold. This means it was not under unauthorised occupation. After Roshni was passed, the government asked those who were holding a lease that their lease won’t be renewed and instead they should apply for Roshni. Without providing this necessary context that the land transferred in Srinagar was under lease hold before the transfer under Roshni, names were deliberately leaked to make a perception that Kashmiris are thieves and Roshni was introduced to benefit them.
 
As the HC has asked the J-K government to make the details of the Roshni beneficiaries and the officials who have violated this law to transfer state land to private individuals public, the truth behind a vicious campaign against Jammu Muslims by BJP leadership and other Sangh affiliate groups in Jammu falsely accusing Muslims especially Gujjar and Bakerwal community for what it calls “land Jihad” is already out in open. This campaign was false and mischievous with an aim to trigger an anti Muslim riot.
 
The J-K government is silent when asked to explain as to who has encroached the State Land in Khasra No. 1373 and 1375, 1789 etc in village Ghaink, Tehsil Bhalwal, district Jammu. An RTI activist in Jammu Mohd Sadiq Poswal (C-3, Village Enclave East Extn.1/C, Trikuta Nagar, Jammu. Mobile 9419141162) has filed a plea seeking information regarding this. Here is his plea: “Divisional Commissioner, Jammu and Tehsildar, Bhalwal are trying to torn off pages where name of one state land encroacher namely Kavinder Gupta and others in a list issued by Divisional Commissioner Jammu on 28/11/2020 of Tehsil Bhalwal which later removed from website of Divisional Commissioner Jammu. General public want clarification regarding the genuineness of the list being circulated on social media showing State Land in Khasra No. 1373 and 1375, 1789 etc. allegedly being encroached by “Kavinder Gupta & Ors” in village Ghaink, Tehsil Bhalwal. The people of UT have a right to know who is this “Kavinder Gupta & Ors”?
 
Why isn’t the list of encroachers of state land in Tehsil Bhalwal not being uploaded again by the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu on its official website till date? So, kindly look matter on priority and order to hold enquiry whether the said person is Former Dy. CM Kavinder Gupta or not and why record of said area kept in custody of Tehsildar Bahu who deny to clarify about it among why list remove from website”.
 
Who has taken over state land in Patiala Chak, Pancheri area? There are scores of top government officials who have come under the scanner of the High Court and also anti graft agencies in last one decade for illegally transferring land under Roshni and many of them are holding important positions in the government, there is no sign that this government is going to act against them.

The article was first published on the author’s Facebook page.

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