Taj Mohi-ud-din is Omar’s only minister responsible for adding Rs 1000 crore to the public kitty. Now he is focus of a house committee probe for land grab, report SAIMA BHAT and JAVED NAIKOO.
In the wake of high drama in the concluding session of Legislative Council over alleged ‘land grabbing’ by PHE minister, Taj Mohiuddin, a house committee has been constituted to enquire into the issue. The committee will investigate the allegations of forest land grab in Sedov, Shopian, on the road leading to Ahrabal picnic spot. “There is a strong prima facie case that warrants a thorough and detailed investigation by a Committee of this House” reads the three-page order.
The five member committee will be headed by PDP lawmaker Murtaza Khan. Syed Mohammad Rafiq Shah, who had made the allegations is also the member of the committee. He has already submitted a number of documents to the Chairman to substantiate his allegations. The documents include the report of Tehsildar Shopian that suggests the land under survey number 4/1 (10 Kanals and 16 Marlas) and 1162/709 (3 Kanals) is under unauthorized occupation of Taj Mohiuddin since ‘prior’ to Kharief 1987. The report also reads that as per the enquiry conducted on spot, it has been observed that the occupant has fenced the said land alongwith his proprietary land under survey number 03 some 27 years ago.
However, the extract of Jamabandi (1966-67) and Khasra-e-Gridawari for these survey numbers has been prepared from kharif 1987 to kharif 2010. However the letters of Halqa Patwari and Naib Tehsildar, dated Feb 28, 2011, annexed with the report give two contradictory statements. The Tehsildar states that the land in question has been under illegal occupation of Taj Mohiuddin ‘prior’ to 1987, while as the patwari maintains that the land was occupied by Taj since Kharief 1987.
In the same report the Tehsildar claims that the record prior to Kharief 1987 was destroyed when the Tehsil building in Shopian was gutted in March 2005. However there is no such assertion in the report prepared by Patwari and Naib Tehsildar who have stated that the record prior to 1987 was simply not available as it had been submitted to the office of the Tehsildar.
The final report of the Tehsildar reveals that the land is under occupation from last 27 years, whileas the revenue record annexed with the report of the Tehsildar states that the Khasra Girdawari of the land in question reflects the position of the land from 1994 onwards only. Also, there is no mention of his illegal occupation over the land under Khasra number 1162 as has been reported by the Patwari and the Naib Tehsildar.
There is yet another interesting fact reflected from a undated letter addressed by Tehsildar Shopian to DC Pulwama. The letter states that the land in question, as per Fard Partaal, has been recorded in the name of Taj Mohiuddin from the year 1983 (Kharief). It is strange that in one of the documents mentioned herein above, the Tehsildar claims that entire revenue record pertaining to land in question prior to 1987 was gutted in the fire. If that is true as claimed, then how is the record pertaining to the 1983 Kharief available. In another statement attached with the report, DFO Shopian has said that the land in question was actually a forest land. “As reported by range officer Shopian about the land of Taj Mohiuddin, land at Sedov attributed to Roshni Act is purely forest land because of the fact that coniferous green crop exists on ground” reads the letter from DFO Shopian.
While saying that he has ‘carefully’ gone through the documents, Malhotra hinted that some of the documents might have been tampered with.
In response to the allegations, Taj held a press conference and said, “If even one marla of forest land is proven being under my possession, I will resign from my post. It is just an attempt from Shah to malign my image,”
Taj has also earlier been targeted by his party colleague, Abdul Gani Vakil, accusing of being corrupt. “I am surprised over the manner in which I was targeted for raising voice against corruption and demanding inquiries about the illegal occupation of more than 342.4 Kanals of private land by three daughters of PHE minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din at village Chak-Lalushah (Tawi Island), under khasra number 1, 2, 3 min 33, 34 and 36 in Jammu”, Valik had said.
Taj had moved a privilege motion against Vakil which irked other senior congress members, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Saifud din Soz. Malhotra said on Tuesday that the committee will submit its findings by or before the coming budget session. The other members of the committee include Bashir Ahmad Shah Veeri, Khalid Najeeb Suharwardy and Bashir Ahmad Magray.
“There are many such cases where forest land was illegally converted into fertile legal land by land mafia in nexus with local revenue officials during militancy days”, says a revenue official in on the condition of anonymity.
Official data reveals that 773.22 hectares of forest land are under the illegal occupation of land Mafias in different forest compartments of the area, the most affected being Mithwani, Chotipora, Sedow, Hirpora, Paadpawan, Ringward, Zawoora-Manloo and some areas in district Pulwama as well.