Concern expressed over forcible acquisition of land by IIOJK authorities to set up camps, colonies for soldiers

Srinagar, December 25 : In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, International Forum for Justice and Human Rights Jammu and Kashmir held an extra-ordinary meeting of the party executives under the chairmanship of its chief, Mohammad Ahsan Untoo, in Srinagar.

The participants, Advocate Zeenat Mushtaq, Shahida Farooq and Farooq Ahmad Dar tabled the detailed report about the land occupied by Indian forces without the consent of locals which measures in lakhs of kanals. The participants expressed serious concern over the forcible acquisition of land by the occupation authorities to establish camps and colonies for Indian troops who are not the citizens of Kashmir.

The report submitted that Kashmir continues to be the world’s most densely militarized region with the presence of nearly 700,000 soldiers and police personnel.

A statement issued after the meeting said that in response to a question by Member of Indian Parliament from IIOJK, Hasnain Masoodi in the July session of the Indian Parliament, the Indian Ministry of Defence replied that the total land occupied in J&K by “Defence Departments/Wings/Organizations” was 56615.54 acres (22,912.31 hectares). It said, this number accounts for the land under the occupation of Army while leaving out the land that is under the occupation of central armed police forces (CAPF). In January 2018 so-called Kashmir Assembly session, the then puppet chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, stated that 21,400 hectares (52879.4 acres) of land in IIOJK is illegally occupied by the Indian armed forces while 18,846 hectares are under the ‘authorized occupation’, it added.

The statement said that the Indian Defence Ministry said that in the last three years more than INR 1.34 billion have been paid as rent for the land while almost INR 244.9 million is outstanding.

The statement said, according to the latest Srinagar Master Plan (2021-2035), the presence of “defence establishments” in every nook and corner of the city is one of the major obstacles for the development. The Master Plan states, “As per the existing land use, the land under defence including many military and paramilitary establishments is spread over an area of 23 Sq km, which equals eight percent of the existing land area of Srinagar. The statistics reveal that there is more area occupied for the defence use than the area used for the development of District, Divisional and State-level public and semi-public infrastructure.”

The statement said, not paying heed to the suggestions of the Srinagar Master Plan, the authorities on May 16 leased out, for a period of 40 years (extendable to 99 years), 7.5 acres of state land belonging to the J&K Horticulture Produce Marketing Corporation (JKHPMC) in Zakura in Srinagar outskirts to the CRPF in return of INR 796.6 million. “The sanction for this transfer had been given by the Revenue Department on March 6. Although this land was already under CRPF occupation since 1990, the J&K High Court had directed the government in December 2018 to remove the encroachment and retrieve the land. This land transfer was a direct contempt of the High Court,” it said.

The statement said, on July 4, IIOJK High court permitted Indian Army to raise permanent constructions at a transit camp in ecologically fragile Sonamarg. “This camp has been operational since 1998, but remains functional from Mid-April till mid-December. The court took into account a decision taken by the Chief Secretary on June 28 “for reserving/converting/declaring an area as a ‘Strategic Area’ for direct operational and training requirements of Armed Forces”, it added.

“Commenting on the Chief Secretary’s decision, the court said, “It would appear that this decision is concerned with the requirements of the army which may arise in the future.” Just a week before August 5 abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, additional deployment of 100 companies (50 companies of CRPF, 10 BSF, 30 SSB and 10 ITBP) of CAPF to Jammu and Kashmir was sanctioned by Ministry of Home Affairs. While later media reports suggested that more than 100 CAPF companies were deployed. Indian Express reported that about 453 companies of CAPF were deployed by August 5 while the total number of additional companies deployed reached 653 post August 5. The additional forces were moved into many school and college buildings. The troops were relocated from some of the schools, which were designated as centers for class 10 and 12 examinations,” it said.

The statement pointed out that on November 24, Special Forces of Army, Navy and Air Force were deployed in IIOJK. These include Army’s Special Para Forces Navy’s Marine Commandos (MARCOS) and Air Force’s Garud Army’s Special Forces deployed in the area around the Srinagar city. The MARCOS have been deployed in and around the Wular lake area while the Garud teams have been positioned in the Lolab area and Hajin.

The statement said the threadbare discussion by the party’s high command expressed serious concerns over the disastrous implications on the local population and it was decided that chairman Untoo will approach relevant quarters to stop this forcible occupation of land in residential areas which is putting the lives of local population in danger and the history is witness to the fact that thousands of innocent civilians fell to the bullets of these unwanted and uncivilised oppressors. This expansionism of Indian military has to be stopped somewhere and this is the right time for this otherwise many more innocent lives will be lost for no crime of theirs, it added.

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