7 cops among 13 hurt during JDA’s anti-encroachment drive

Jammu: Jammu Development Authority, backed by CRPF and police personnel, continued its anti-encroachment drive for the second consecutive day Monday to evict Gujjars from Gole Gujral prime land in Jammu city, during which 13 people including seven policemen were injured in stone pelting and clashes.
“The encroachment drive entered second day today to evict the Gujjars over the prime land in Gole Gujral belt,” a Jammu Development Authority (JDA) official said.
Led by more than 200 CRPF and police personnel, JDA officials armed with bulldozers, JCBs and trucks demolished nearly 20 structures and fenced over 70 kanals out of 400 kanals of Gole Gujral land.
However, JDA officials failed to evict the Gujjar families, their cattle and kiosks from the fenced land. “We are making efforts to shift them to other area so that they leave this land,” the official said.
As many as thirteen people, including a CRPF officer, policemen and JDA employees, were injured when Gujjars resorted to stone pelting and subsequent clash.
The anti-encroachment drive was being carried on the direction of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to remove land grabbers and grant the plots in Gole Gujaral JDA colony to the allotted people.
A joint team of CRPF, police and JDA, led by the development authority vice-chairperson Sushma Chouhan began the drive yesterday. The Gujjar settlers have opposed the eviction drive.
However, when National Conference (NC) leader Rasheeda Begum reached the spot and targeted JDA for the eviction drive, Gujjars turned violent and showered stones and bricks on the team members.
Police also fired a few tear gas shells to disperse the Gujjars, who raised anti government slogans. “The drive will continue for the next two to three days till the encroachers are evicted from the prime land,” a senior Housing and Urban Development Department official said.
On March 20, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had pulled up the JDA for failing to check encroachments on the prime land and directed it to remove unauthorised occupation from the land worth about Rs 100 crore.
A division bench comprising Justice Virender Singh and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar directed all JDA officials to disclose their movable and immovable properties within one week, saying “strong eyebrows of suspicions are raised about the integrity” of the authorities and officials.
The court directed JDA vice-chairperson Sushma Chouhan to immediately initiate steps for evicting encroachers from the 400 kanal land belonging to the authority in village Gole and said “it is appalling that the authorities of the JDA have failed to take possession of the huge chunk of land from the unauthorised occupants”.
After perusal of the status report filed by JDA and hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmad appearing for the petitioner, the court observed, “We are prima facie of the view that the failure of the JDA authorities in retrieving the huge chunk of land from the possession of the unauthorised occupants is a matter of serious concern.”
The court said, “The JDA vice-chairperson, who has complete statutory back up and paraphernalia available, shall immediately initiate steps for evicting the encroachers from its land.”