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‘She’s my Shero’: Tehsildar who stood strong against land grabbers

Image Courtesy: The Tribune.

A Kashmiri revenue officer Nusrat Aziz received valley-wide applaud for taking-on the powerful land grabbers in Humhama area of Budgam district. While she says she was only doing her job, her action has already inspired many in town.

Ever since she joined the state revenue department some 18 years ago, Budgam Tehsildar Nusrat Aziz, 40, has been constantly dealing with influential violators holding sway over power centres.

Her latest encounter came from the Srinagar-Budgam belt—housing many movers and shakers of the state—when she took the land sharks head-on during her anti-encroachment drive on June 1, 2019.

As a woman Tehsildar, Nusrat’s act greatly fared online and was appreciated by everyone. She could be seen putting her foot down amid “threats”, to clear the mess created by the high-ranking lobby.

Since then, she has been asserting: “I was only doing my job.” 

But then, many say, it’s rare to capture an official on duty in Kashmir, taking on the powerful, for the sake of public welfare. 

Nusrat took action against three authoritative government officials, who had occupied the state land. Besides retrieving more than 81 Kanals of state land in Rakhe Arath, she retrieved 10 Kanals of land at Sheikhpora, Humhama. 

The action followed when she received complaints from locals.

Nusrat, who joined as Tehsildar Budgam only three months back, started investigating the land grab complaints and soon learned who was behind it. 

“It is risky to act against the violators, but it is my job to do it,” she said. 

In a video that went viral on social media on June 1, Nusrat can be seen furiously asking police officials to arrest the accused as she feels threatened. 

According to Mudasir Ahmad, an officer from Humhama Police Station, FIR No. 156/ 2019 was filed against one of the three accused on Saturday. He’s in police custody right now. 

“It was state land,” the officer told Free Press Kashmir. “We freed the land on her [Tehsildar’s] instructions. It was all her role. She’s the authority to remove any sort of encroachments and she did.”

Nusrat credits her higher-ups for the successful land-clearing drive. Besides, she said, her role and responsibility as a Tehsildar and her conscience also played a role in her action against the land mafia.  

“Since the land is expensive, taking it back from such a mafia is indeed risky,” Nusrat said. “The Deputy Commissioner Budgam and Divisional Commissioner have been supporting me. It was mandatory for me to preserve these grasslands for the future. And their support gave me courage.” 

Such lands, she said, cannot be converted. “And therefore, our job was to retrieve it,” she stressed.

Her exploits have already made her the talk of the town.

“It takes some heart to take on the land mafia that has messed Kashmir up,” said Gowher Amin, a trader from Srinagar. “The woman Tehsildar’s action tells us that not everything is rotten in official ranks.”

Nusrat is also being hailed for her daredevilry to counter the powerful lobby and send them behind bars. 

“She’s my Shero,” said Iqra Asgar, a university student. “The action she took was long overdue. And I’m sure it’ll inspire more action against these so-called white-collar violators.”

But her family, Nusrat said, remains concerned about her safety.

“They suggested me to follow the norm: In Rome, do as the Romans do,” Nusrat, a mother of three children, said. “But, I couldn’t. I’m not doing anything wrong.”

The lady Tehsildar comes from a middle-class family and has been academically sound throughout her career. 

After her schooling from Mallinson Girls School, she wanted to become a journalist, but her family wanted to see her in the white apron of a doctor. She became none. 

“Instead I ended up being a Tehsildar,” she said. 

Shaken by twin deaths in her family, Nusrat never let that cloud or confuse her work. “I’ll continue to do my job the way I’m supposed to do,” she said.

Now when she has done her job, the main question, many ask, is how the government will preserve the retrieved land.

 

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