Jammu & Kashmir

After son, father ends life to protest demolition of house in Jammu

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Harban Lal was a former armed forces personnel

Srinagar: A day after administration in Jammu district decided to demolish house of a former armed forces personnel, to clear the way for the Ring Road project around the city, a 55-year-old man ended his life.

Reports said that as the officials from revenue and Police department went to demolish the house of Harban Lal in Chak Avtara village in Bishnah tehsil Jammu, the former Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel allegedly killed himself.

Earlier, when the government acquired their land and compensated them with meagre assistance, Harbans Lal’s son, Rahul 22, had hanged himself to death in protest.

Soon after the death of his son, Lal resigned as sub-inspector in the SSB about 18 months back.

According to a report by The Indian Express, Lal is survived by his wife Kamlesh, 50, and son Sahil Kumar, 25. He built the single-storey, three-room house on about 10 marla land — about 2,722 sq feet — bought from a relative for Rs 80,000 nearly two decades ago. The family belongs to the SC community.

On July 13, the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Jammu (South), had issued a notice to Lal, directing him to “vacate/remove the structure within 5 days so that work of construction of Ring Road may be done smoothly.”

According to the notice, that read: “the compensation has also been transferred in your bank account on account of your structure coming under the alignment of Ring Road on July 22, 2019’’, the notice warned him “directions may be issued for eviction of the said structure…”

In a reply on July 18, Lal sought time as he was not well and did not have any other house to live in, the report mentioned.

Two days later, local Tehsildar Sohan Lal Rana, a demolition team and a police contingent visited Lal’s home and started the demolition. As Lal and his family protested and local residents gathered, the Tehsildar and others left the place after demolishing the boundary wall and asked Lal to visit his office the next day.

Quoting relatives, the report said that Lal was not well the next day and his wife and son visited the tehsildar, but could not meet him. On reaching home, they found Lal hanging from the ceiling.

However, the report has quoted Tehsildar Rana saying that Lal was under depression, SDM Srikant Balasaheb Suse said it would be wrong to connect the suicide with the Ring Road project.

Lal was served a notice in July last year as well and a compensation of Rs 9.31 lakh was deposited in his account the same month, the SDM told The Indian Express.

Lal’s son Sahil, however, said the revenue officials deposited Rs 7 lakh into his father’s account without his consent. They had taken his bank details from somewhere else, he alleged.

Officials have told the newspaper that the rate of compensation was finalised on the basis of circle rates of land fixed by the erstwhile J&K government under the Land Acquisition Act, to which residents of Chak Avtara village said it was far less than the market rates.

Former BJP minister Sukhnandan Choudhary said he has submitted a representation to Home Minister Amit Shah for a review of compensation award for families affected by the Ring Road project, the report said.


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