SRINAGAR: An influential doctor has allegedly encroached on a huge chunk of forest land in Pahalgam and is trying to pressurise forest officials into granting him permission for constructing huts there. Official sources told Kashmir reader that this individual, Dr Javed Mir from Srinagar, has encroached on around 22 kanals of prime forest land near Hill Park under the garb of exchange of slots. The politically connected doctor who also owns Classic Hospital in Srinagar, in an attempt to legalise this illegal occupation of forest land, locals said, has fraudulently managed to obtain documents from revenue officials.
Divisional forest officer, Lidder, Humayun Kabir, confirmed the encroachment by the doctor: “The doctor, under the garb of exchange of plots, has encroached on 22 kanals of forest land. A few years ago he had started constructing huts on the land, but we demolished those and halted the work. Now he has been approaching us with the plea that he be granted permission for construction of commercial structures. But we have refused.”
The DFO told Kashmir Reader that the doctor, with the help of revenue officials, has managed to procure some documents. “It is on the basis of these fake revenue documents that the doctor is asking for a no-objection certificate,” he said. He added that records for every exchanged plot are available with the forest department but the land the doctor claims to have got in exchange does not figure in those records.
“The revenue officials, in nexus with the land mafia, want to put the Pahalgam forests on sale but we won’t let them do so,” the forest officer said. However, revenue officials actually claim the land was provided to the doctor when India was ruled by the British.
“The land has been provided to the doctor in 1943 by KN Haksar, who was then the prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir,” tehsildar Pahalgam Abdul Gafar told Kashmir Reader. Asked whether there are any revenue records of the land acquired or provided in exchange by the-then government he said, “In Latha (revenue map) there are no records of the land but the plot is registered.” The tehsildar also failed to provide any details about where exactly the doctor actually owned the land which was later acquired by the government and the doctor then given land somewhere else in exchange. And when asked what the age of the doctor was in 1943, if he had himself been given the land by Haksar, the tehsildar amended his story: “The doctor had no proprietary land but had purchased the same from a local. But I don’t know whether the land was in the Golf course or the main market area.”
On his part, Dr Javed claimed that he had all the documents of the land exchange in his possession. “I have got the NOC from both revenue and forest departments. I am only seeking permission from the forest department for cutting some dry trees in the land I have got in exchange. I am not a land grabber but a God-fearing person,” he told Kashmir Reader. DFO Lidder, however, refuted the doctor’s claim of getting a NOC from the forest department: “If he has got a NOC from the forest department, let him produce the same. He is lying.”
Meanwhile, locals have accused the forest department of failing to
retrieve the encroached land. “No doubt the forest authorities are
denying a NOC to the encroacher, but they have failed to retrieve the land. If they can evict poor Gujjars from Jammu forests why can’t they act against the rich and influential doctor,” said Javed Ahmad, a local.