SRINAGAR: Over five kanals of prime land worth crores of rupees belonging to the Kashmir Government Polytechnic (KGP) College, Gogji Bagh, have been encroached upon by a few neighbours who settled in the locality some years ago, officials said.
Insiders from the college told Kashmir Reader that after buying the residential plots adjacent to the KGP in the 2000s, around 10 house owners intruded into the main area of the college, which was not fenced at the time.
An official said that the residential plots belonged to Kashmiri Pandits who fled from the Valley during militancy in the 1990s.
The house owners, the insiders said, have illegally seized the college area “from hostel and residential quarters side” which falls in the eastern and southern parts of the college.
“The house owners are doing it on the back of political connections. We took up the matter with the higher ups, but to no avail,” a college insider said.
Even after the intervention of late chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed into the matter during the PDP-Congress coalition government, a top official in the Technical Education Department said that the house owners continued to occupy the college land as on date.
“He (the late CM) had in fact given directions to the then DC Srinagar after visiting the college. Even demolitions were made and we had erected a fence of tin sheets, but the house owners dismantled the fence overnight and seized the land once again,” said the official.
“They even stole away the tin sheets that belonged to the college,” a college insider said.
Citing an irony, the official said that “one of the frontrunners in the encroachment of the college land has himself studied at KGP in the past”. “Another is a leading book seller in the city centre Srinagar,” added the official.
The official also blamed the police for being “on the side” of the land grabbers.
“Although the police were initially committed to protect the land, which belongs to the government, but they sided later on with the house owners,” the official alleged.
“It is an irony that we had to purchase land when new polytechnic colleges were set up a few years ago. We had to spend money from the government exchequer, but here we cannot protect a land that we already own,” he lamented.
A college insider said that the matter had been taken up with the Divisional Commissioner’s office.
Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Khan however expressed ignorance over the matter.
Nonetheless Khan assured that he will “verify” the matter.
While the KGP College principal, Altaf Hussain Shalla, was unavailable for comments, Director, Technical Education, Shabnum Shah Kamili said that the matter was being “sorted out”.