Srinagar: The J&K High Court has sought a response from ruling BJP legislator Ajatshatru Singh and PDP minister Imran Ansari over illegal constructions in prohibited areas in and around Dal Lake, one of the endangered water bodies in the Kashmir Valley.
While Ajatshatru Singh, the grandson of J&K’s last king, Hari Singh, has been asked to respond to the illegal construction being allegedly raised by him in Gupkar area here, Ansari has to answer the assertions by DySP with LAWDA’s enforcement wing that he “abused and threatened” him for taking action against those who had raised illegal constructions at Lashkari Mohalla near Habak on Dal peripheries.
The directions by a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey followed perusal of a latest report filed by the court-appointed vigilance commissioners—Mohammad Shafi Khan (retired session judge) and Abdul Hamid Bhat (former SSP). In their report, the commissioners stated that within the prohibited area of the Dal Lake, a sitting MLC Ajat Shatru Singh had been carrying on some construction activity in the Gupkar area.
The LAWDA’s enforcement officer, they said, forwarded a letter to the Secretary LAWDA for formation of an appropriate team to take “necessary action” on the spot.
“In this regard, there are a bunch of inter se communications which reveal that a great hindrance is being faced by the LAWDA officials in carrying on their routine work due to the fact that the violator has security guards at the entrance of the area upon which the illegal construction is being carried on, and just before the last inspection before the situation in Valley started to deteriorate, the illegal construction has been further improved upon,” they said, urging the court to issue appropriate orders so that the violations are stopped.
In view of the circumstances, the court impleaded Ajat Shatru Singh as a party respondent with a direction to file his response by or before next date of hearing on September 5.
“In the meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir are directed to forthwith stop the constructions whatever is being carried out in violation of Court orders by Ajat Shatru Singh. Any construction already raised shall be sealed alongwith the ongoing construction and shall remain on Superdari of Deputy Commissioner Srinagar,” the court said and directed them to file a compliance report before the Registry within four days.
The Court Commissioners had also enclosed with their report a communication which was sent by the enforcement officer, a DySP, to Vice Chairman LAWDA on August 4.
The subject matter of the communication was “misbehaviour” by Imran Ansari, Minister for Information Technology, Technical Education and Youth Services & Sports.
Through the communication, Vice Chairman LAWDA was informed by the cop that on August 2 a meeting was held in the police control room Srinagar and a decision was taken for initiation of demolition drive at Habak on the Foreshore road.
It was also informed that the LAWDA team consisting of its Secretary, Collector, Enforcement Officer, and one Abdul Ahad Raina, Magistrate, would demolish the illegal constructions or structures there.
“The demolition team was assisted by SSP Srinagar and SP Hazratbal etc and when the team reached Lashkari Mohalla to demolish the illegal constructed structures belonging to one Pervaiz Ahmad Joo (Matta) against whom FIR is already registered at Police Station Nishat, it was attacked by the mob,” the officer said, adding that the team assisted by the police used mild lathicharge and tear smoke shells to disperse the mob.
In the evening, the officer said, at 9:39pm he received a phone call from cell number 9419666666 and the caller identified himself as Imran Ansari and asked him how he and his team demolished the illegally constructed structures at Lashkari Mohalla.
“(Ansari) also used unparliamentary language and threatened to kill me,” he said, adding that he discouraged him to conduct demolition drive.
The communication also revealed that this has been the practice of Ansari in the past also.
“In view of the circumstances, Imran Ansari is also pleaded as party respondent in this position,” the court said and asked him to file response by or before September 5.
The court also directed state government to not transfer the enforcement officer (DySP Suhail Reshi) from LAWDA till further orders from the court.
“He shall continue to perform his duties in LAWDA,” the court added.
The court issued another direction to the government to file fresh compliance report about the demolition of illegal structures, which have been or are being raised illegally in violation of Court orders passed from time to time.
“In the meanwhile, particulars of all such persons be furnished to the Registry of this Court, so that they are proceeded against, prima facie for violating the Court orders passed in this petition from time to time,” the court said, and directed Divisional Commissioner Kashmir to issue public notice in two daily newspapers for informing these persons to appear before it on the appointed date.
“In the notice it shall be specifically mentioned that such persons have to explain as to why they shall not be punished for violating the Court orders,” the court said, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed in 2002 to protect the Dal Lake.