The Jammu and Kashmir government has a real Herculean task to perform as it starts one of its most challenging field exercises to free encroached state and ‘Kahcharie’ (grazing land) lands from encroachers.
One gets a Bird’s eye view of the magnitude of this anti-encroachment drive by simply looking at the area that has been encroached over the years in the just the Jammu division.
Out of the total 86,14,272 Kanals of state land in the 10 districts of Jammu division, 10,12,273 Kanals are under the occupation of the encroachers.
Similarly, out of the total 8,75,194 Kanals of Kahcharie land in the 10 districts of Jammu division, 31,129 Kanals remain under illegal occupation of the encroachers.
Out of the total 86,14,272 Kanals of state land in Jammu division, 10,60,909 Kanals are in Reasi district; 12,37,711 in Rajouri district; 6,87,796 in Kishtwar; 10,61,505 in Jammu district; 10,29,103 in Kathua district; 3,92,198 in Samba; 12,29,187 in Udhampur; 5,33,377 in Ramban; 5,99,620 in Doda and 7,82,866 in Poonch district.
Of these, 1,76,439 Kanals of state land have been encroached in Reasi district; 2,34,952 in Rajouri district; 12,500 in Kishtwar; 1,52,737 in Jammu; 1,17,314 in Kathua; 58,702 in Samba; 52,020 in Udhampur; 81,344 in Ramban; 16,492 in Doda and 1,09,873 in Poonch district.
Out of the total Kahcharie land of 8,75,194 Kanals, 1266 Kanals have been encroached in Reasi, 7961 in Rajouri, 369 in Kishtwar, 5483 in Jammu, 4344 in Kathua, 886 in Samba, 422 in Udhampur, 141 in Ramban, 148 in Doda and 10109 Kanals in Poonch district.
Since the land area in Jammu division is larger than that of the Valley, obviously more land exists in Jammu division and, therefore, more of it has been encroached over the years in comparison with the Valley.
Eviction exercise was in fact started in Jammu division right after the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019, but officials said, the exercise could not pick up enough pace because of the Covid pandemic in that year.
A top official told IANS, “From these figures one gets a clear idea that what the government intends to do is not against any region, community or religion.
“The sharks will have to let go of the huge chunks of state lands and Kahcharie lands encroached by them.
“The farmer and the poor people have nothing to fear. Negligible encroachments say up to 5 to 10 and even 15 Marlas are not being touched.
“Those occupying huge chunks of state/grazing land are rattled. They want to convert the pro-people anti-encroachment drive into some sort of a regional or religious battle which is complete nonsense.
“At many places the big encroachers have been telling the farmers and poor people that when the rich and powerful are not spared how could the ordinary citizen be spared.
“Our drive is against nobody as such unless he/she has been benefitting illegally by usurping public property.”
Notwithstanding the officer’s assertion, every land owner has started approaching the revenue officials to find out whether the land under their occupation is genuine or not.