25 years on, Bandipora tehsil office remains under CRPF occupation

Bandipora: The tehsil office of Bandipora appears more like an army camp than an administrative office. For the past 25 years, soldiers have been manning the gates, barbed wire is spread from wall to wall, and army vehicles roam freely within.
The tehsil office at Bandipora was inaugurated in 1985 by Muhammad Kalil Jowhar, the animal and sheep husbandry minister at the time. After seven years of smooth functioning, the office premises, including washrooms, were occupied by the Border Security Force in 1992, the staff at the tehsil office said.
In 2004, the BSF handed over the buildings and the tehsil land to the Central Reserve Police Force’s 51 battalion, which continues to occupy, illegally, the tehsil office.
The current office functions from a dilapidated building that has also been occupied by central government forces. They have taken over the first storey of the building which holds a conference hall, and “they piss and drink there,” an employee requesting anonymity said.
The office staff say there are no toilets and washrooms at the premises for their use as they have been taken over by the paramilitary. An outcry from the employees came when, recently, the CRPF pushed the barbed wire further inside the tehsil premises to make space for their new guesthouse. The soldiers have also opened a new entrance for their vehicles just near the tehsil building gate.
Staffers also complained that the CRPF has erected concrete structures on the tehsil land.
The large 18-feet gate that the soldiers use for their motor vehicles remains restricted all day, forcing the staff and the public to squeeze through the two-foot door that only remains half-open.
“The illegal occupation of the new patch of land on which they have constructed a guesthouse, has been verbally approved by our deputy commissioner,” sources inside the office told Kashmir Reader.
The women employees face a particularly tough time. “We are restricted inside this dark and ghostly building. We can’t have a break for fresh air as the soldiers roam freely,” an employee said. She also said the battalion had occupied the vehicle parking space.
Staffers want the many office buildings, which include patwar khana, the office of records, and the upper storey of the main building, as also the washrooms, to be free from the clutches of the CRPF.
“We have been shouting for years but no one pays heed to us,” the staff say.  Locals blame the administration for this hapless state. “The office that is supposed to free land from illegal encroachments has itself been encroached on. What can be more abject than that?” a local remarked.

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