Anti-encroachment drive in J&K halted after Centre steps in

It directs administration to issue notices and give proper hearing to residents. Jammu and Kashmir official denies this, says geo-tagging and geo-referencing of the retrieved land is on

February 14, 2023 09:06 pm | Updated February 15, 2023 10:28 am IST - New Delhi

An automobile showroom is demolished during an anti-encroachment drive in Jammu on February 11, 2023.

An automobile showroom is demolished during an anti-encroachment drive in Jammu on February 11, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI

The month-long anti-encroachment drive in Jammu and Kashmir to retrieve government land has been halted following an intervention by the Union Home Ministry, a government source told The Hindu.

The Union Territory administration has been asked to issue notices and give proper hearing to residents before arriving with bulldozers.

A J&K administration official, however, denied that the drive had been halted and said that “geo-tagging and geo-referencing” of the retrieved land was going on. The official said the drive to recover public land was being done as per a 2020 order of the J&K High Court to scrap the Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting Ownership to the Occupants) Act, popularly known as the Roshni Act.

The court, in an order on October 9, 2020, directed that details of “State land in unauthorised occupation” should be disclosed on the government’s website, along with the names of the beneficiaries under the Roshni Act.

“The list has been in public domain since 2020. Notices were served to illegal occupants. After they did not bother to vacate the land, the action was taken,” the official said.

Also Read | Mehbooba Mufti detained during protest against J&K anti-encroachment drive

On January 9, the Revenue Department issued a circular stating that “all Deputy Commissioners (DC) shall ensure that all encroachment on State land, including Roshni land and Kaccharie (grazing) land, are removed to the extent of 100% by January 31”.

It asked the DCs to draw a daily anti-encroachment drive plan, personally monitor it and submit a report by 5 p.m. everyday to the Administration Department.

‘Against influential people’

The official said there was an “unsaid policy” to not touch the property of the poor and the marginalised and the action was against the influential people who misused their position and grabbed land.

“Firstly, no homes have been demolished in the ongoing anti-encroachment drive. Encroachment has been removed from where people misused their position and grabbed land. Typical of J&K, they thought they were entitled to grab as much land as they want. Whatever narrative is being created is incorrect,” the official said.

Also Read | L-G govt. faces stiff opposition to eviction drive from political parties, locals in J&K

The official added that in three specific cases where it was found that the poor were being targeted, no action was taken.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday took stock of the situation in J&K, including the eviction drive, during a meeting with senior officials of the Union Territory administration.

The official added the drive was initiated to establish the rule of law in J&K and that only voices from across the border had opposed the drive.

Also Read | Formal order should be issued to spare poor from anti-encroachment drive in J&K: Ghulam Nabi Azad

The official denied that the eviction drive in both Jammu division and Kashmir Valley had been paused. “The eviction drive has not stopped. It is just that the land that has been retrieved so far is being geo-tagged and digitised. It cannot be that we keep removing encroachments and losing them at the same time. There is a written order that all such land has to be geo-referenced so that the same activity is not resumed again,” the official said.

Asked why the 2020 court order was being implemented now, the official said, “The court order under Roshni Act was not implemented properly. The earlier regime ran on four pillars – illegal contracts, illegal land, illegal jobs and illegal banking. All the four pillars are gone now. The common man is happy with the current drive.”

All parties in J&K have been critical of the administration’s actions. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti said in an interview to The Hindu on February 10 that the number of people who have encroached government land cannot run into thousands and lakhs and no norms were being followed before razing homes with bulldozers.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.