Army has failed to pay rent for the last thirty years for the land over which a portion of their camp is located in Trehgam village of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, the landowners have alleged.
The portion of the camp for which the rent has not been paid since 1991 is privately owned and measures 12 Kanal and 18 marlas.
A joint inspection of the land was carried by the Department of Revenue and Defence Estates Department of the Army on 4 October 2017 and established that the land measuring 12 Kanal and 18 marlas under Khasra numbers – 1798, 1799, 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803, 1805- are under the occupation of Station Headquarter of 68 Mountain Brigade at Trehgam.
The strategic Trehgam Camp was established at the entrance of the village decades ago and its boundaries were later extended, thus occupying additional land, as per official documents.
“Till 1990-91 we were paid rent as per the agreement and were unjustifiably not paid the amount since then,” said Ghulam Rasool Malik whose family land measuring six Kanal and 13 marlas are under the occupation of the Army camp.
Malik said that they tried to persuade concerned officers for the payment of rent but so far failed in their attempts. “We approached revenue officials and they submitted a report to the Assistant Commissioner Revenue in 2014,” he said.
“Revenue officials after verification of the land asked the Defence Department to release the rent in our favour but they did not,” said another Trehgam resident, Abdul Aziz, whose land is also under the Army camp.
A senior official of the Defence Estates Department wishing anonymity told The Kashmir Walla that they had taken up the issue with Principal Directorate Defence Estates. “We are not yet aware whether they have processed the issue or not,” he said.
Earlier, in May 2016, a letter was written by the Assistant Commissioner of Revenue to the Assistant Defence Officer Baramulla asking for the release of rent in favour of the landowners, “else they [owners] shall be forced to reclaim their land”.
The letter in possession of The Kashmir Walla reads: “This office is in possession of a case from Tehsildar Trehgam vide his letter number TT/N/16/29 dated 23-05-2016 wherein on the basis of complaint of landowners for non-release of timely rent of land measuring 12 Kanal, 18 marlas … pending with your office since decades.”
It further reads: “The delay in the matter [payment] shall charge 10% interest over the principal amount as the land is under the continued occupation of the army. You are accordingly requested to release the rent within a week’s time falling which the landowners shall be forced to reclaim their land.”
The Trehgam Tehsildar Nazir Ahmad Shah confirmed to The Kashmir Walla that the Revenue Department had earlier written a letter to the Defence Estates and taken up the demand of the landowners.
“We had written (to the army), but they have not paid the rent yet,” Shah said.