Jammu: Quoting the famous saying that “cleansing of staircase must always begin from the top”, Mr. Harsh Dev Singh Chairman-JKNPP and former Minister today called upon the Ex-Ministers, legislators and bureaucrats to come clean on the issue of encroachments before harassing or initiating eviction proceedings against poor, hapless, un-influential villagers, nomads, and other homeless people. He said that the selective action against poor and marginalized sections in the name of illegal encroachments, to the exclusion of privileged classes, was highly reprehensible.
Referring to the dismantling and bull dozing of habitations of Gujjar Bakarwals by the JDA recently, Mr. Singh questioned as to how and why the palatial mansions constructed on State and Forest land by politicians and top bureaucrats had been granted immunity from legal and departmental action. Pointing towards several cases wherein the poor nomads and indigent villagers had been rendered landless and shelterless due to their eviction by the govt, Mr. Singh charged the very same officials of providing all support in encroachments to mighty and the powerful. He said that hundreds of such poor families putting up in the said shelters for as long as six to seven decades were being dispossessed and their habitations dismantled by those govt functionaries who had contrarily helped the influential by all means to raise palatial bungalows on State, Municipal, JDA, Forests and even on Army lands. He was addressing a gathering of Gujjars and Bakarwals in Roop Nagar area who were on protest dharna against the selective action of eviction being taken against them by the govt.
Making a particular mention of some of the prime residential colonies and other concrete structures developed by the powerful politicians by encroachment and consequent destruction of Forests, Mr. Singh dared the govt to retrieve the Forest land from the Ex-Ministers, MLAs, MLCs and other bureaucrats in areas like Bhatindi, Sunjwan, Chowadi, Nagrota, Bajalta, etc in the vicinity of Jammu city. He said that several thousands of kanals of Forests land had been encroached by politicians and their cronies in the said areas mostly belonging to other districts and Kashmir Division and who had raised huge residential and commercial complexes in collusion with the functionaries of Forest Deptt with the Forest officers reportedly having provided even financial assistance for raising such constructions. It was a case of ‘quid pro quo’ as the Forest officers provided financial and other support to their political masters and got prized postings in return.
Asserting that politicians and bureaucrats were not above law, Mr. Singh sought appropriate action against all Ex-Ministers, legislators and bureaucrats who had encroached govt lands in conformity with the principles of law and equity together with an enquiry against the officers who had allowed such constructions by tempering and damaging records. He further cautioned the govt that the state lands were not the ‘Jagirs’ or personal fief-down of Ministers or of govt officers who were supposed to apply same yard sticks with all encroachers without any bias, ill will, prejudice and without any regard for the office or position held by the offenders. Describing the selective action of govt against poor and destitute people as ‘cowardice’, besides “political corruption” of the highest order, Mr. Singh dared the govt to ensure vacation of the entire 2.5 lakh kanals of Forest land occupied by Forests Mafia and 20 lakh kanals of state land under illegal possession of land mafia and influential people as had been revealed by the govt itself in Assembly and in Courts.