Jammu & Kashmir

‘We are called illegal encroachers in our own land’: Residents in Nishat told to ‘evacuate in two weeks’

15 households have been told to evacuate their properties in two weeks

Srinagar: Residents of Nishat on Wednesday claimed to have been asked by the local Pathwari and police to evacuate their houses in 15 days as they are ‘illegal encroachers’ of land.

According to the residents, on June 5, a group of police officers along with the local Patwari informed 15 households that they have to evacuate their houses in two weeks as they are ‘illegal encroachers of land belonging to Surinder, son of Makandar’.

However, the residents while refuting the claims said that the land was transferred from Surinder to the tenants back in the 1960s to 1970s. And that the current residents bought the land from the tenants.

A part of the land reforms in 1950s Land Estate Abolition Act, 1950 was introduced by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. The act had placed a ceiling of maximum 22.75 acres on landholdings of a particular landlord.

The land beyond this limit was automatically transferred to the tillers without paying any compensation.

Another act which complimented this one was the Jammu and Kashmir Tenancy Act 1980 that had stayed all proceedings relating to evicting the tenants.

The laws were repealed by the Government of India through a notice in October 2020. Almost one year after the repeal of Article 370 and the semi-autonomous status of JK.

“This land was not permissible according to the law to be sold by the tenants, although many of us have affidavits stating that we bought this land, and many have a ‘mutation number’ as well,” said another resident.

The notice served to them mentions that the entire land belongs to Surinder, however, residents refuted the claim and said that the land, in a legal manner, belongs to them.

They said the notice issued by the Tehsildar claims the current residents to be ‘illegal encroachers’, without mentioning the entire land transfer history.

As per the residents, the land in Nishat estate is spread in 30 Kanals and 02 marlas under 7 Khasra numbers with multiple houses built by the residents in one Khasra.

“In March, this year, Divisional Commissioner ordered the Tehsildar to take possession of three Khasras where 15 households have built their houses,” the residents said.

“This is the only thing we have now. If they evict us from here, where am I supposed to go with my daughters? Since we received this information, I have had sleepless nights. We are called illegal encroachers in our own land,” said a woman resident.

The residents claim that the notice served to them on June 5, was signed on May 25. “On June 5, 12 days from the actual date had already passed.”

“We will fight this battle legally. Although looking at the developments around us, we have little hope that we will win this battle, however, we have faith in Allah, and until we have that we will not be evicted from our houses,” said another resident.

When Free Press Kashmir contacted the personal secretary of the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir he said that he is not authorized to give any clarification regarding the matter and that Div Com will be available only in his office to answer any such questions.

This story will be updated as and when officials respond to Free Press Kashmir’s journalistic requests.


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