Editorial: Stop soft paddling

Srinagar: Government’s over the years have been soft on people who are either politically connected or are having access to power centers that may be. The fact that no action is taken against these powerful men is no hidden secret

No wonder then that the government which tries every bit to squeeze even the last drop of blood from a common man is acting soft on those who not only vandalize but take possession of government property with the very government preferring silence over these issues.

Land grabbing by the mighty and the powerful has been an issue which the government has failed to check. The reasons can be many, but it is obvious that where ever land grabbing or any other related activity takes place, the government prefers to shut its eyes so as to benefit its blue eyed boys.

Various land grabbing cases that have been reported from various places-including some tourist destinations-the government has acted too soft giving ample reasons for us to believe that it intends to protect those who are involved in grabbing the land.

Recently when the assembly was in session hardly one question pertaining to land grabbing at various tourist places was raised in the assembly and even that question witnessed least debate-as the case should not have been otherwise.

The question came up in the Assembly and the Minister for tourism was obliged to provide some clues which appear to be only the tip of the iceberg. Not more than six cases have been fully or partially addressed out of 111 cases and this shows that the Government is deliberately soft paddling on the issue.

By no means can the reply of the Minister in charge Tourism be called satisfying. The land claimed to be retrieved by the Government is a minute fraction of the total encroached area and does not speak for the seriousness of the Government in protecting the tourist destinations. There has to be a massive drive and exemplary punitive measures against the encroachers so that others take a lesson.

The land grabbing incidents also pose some important questions. These questions need answers and the government, whosoever may be at the helm-needs to explain as to what were the government officials, including officials from revenue, tourism and even the police doing when the land was grabbed in places like Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Pahalgam.

The question of illegal land grabbing at these prestigious spots needs a thorough investigation and those involved should be brought to the book. The government needs to shun from its attitude of acting ostrich and come out with the details that should have been in public domain way back.

When this issue was raised in the assembly, the revenue Minister went to the extent of saying that the case is sub-judice and the government cannot intervene.

However, pushing the ball towards the judiciary cannot absolve the government of its lackadaisical attitude towards this grave issue. The courts have intervened after an PIL was filed that too some months back. The issue of land grab is decades old and what has the revenue department been doing over the years needs to be probed.   

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