by Muzamil Jaleel
Out of a total 44912 kanals of land that was given to their occupants through Roshni scheme in Jammu district, only 1180 kanals is vested to Muslims.
While the Sangh and its affiliates are again targeting this disempowered minority in Jammu by falsely claiming that they were benefitted through Roshni scheme to get ownership of land in Jammu’s Hindu majority districts, the facts on the ground are altogether different. The beneficiaries of this scheme were primarily the top politicians like Raman Bhalla, Sharma brothers and leading Jammu businessmen like Bansi Lal etc.
The list of people who were given ownership of land under Roshni that I had made public a few days ago clearly shows that out of a total 44912 kanals of land that was given to their occupants through Roshni scheme in Jammu district, only 1180 kanals is vested to Muslims. This means Muslims formed 2.63 per cent beneficiaries of the Roshni scheme in Jammu.
To understand how Jammu Muslims were systematically dispossessed of their lands and properties ever since November 1947, it is important to look at how the Waqf properties (places of worship, shrines, graveyards) have been illegally and forcibly encroached upon apart from the land and property of those Jammu Muslims who were massacred and forced to abandon their home in 1947.
After 1947, the government had set up a Waqf Council to “manage and safeguard” the Waqf properties belonging to Jammu Muslims. It didn’t come under the Waqf Board that looked after the Muslim religious places in Kashmir. One of the reasons to keep it separate from the Waqf Board was clearly to avoid any scrutiny of its functioning and misuse and encroachment of the Waqf property in Jammu.
The 2008 Investigations
In 2008, I learnt that there has been widespread encroachment of the Waqf properties in Jammu by both government agencies and private parties and as Jammu Muslims lacked a political voice, this systematic removal of Muslim places of worship, their ancestral graveyards and other Waqf property was happening unhindered.
Soon, I started investigating these large scale encroachments of the Waqf properties in Jammu for a story. I found out details that the government was not acting against the encroachers despite full knowledge about it. I also came to know that various government departments were also singularly targeting the Waqf properties in Jammu and clandestinely taking them over. I also found out private individuals and businessmen in Jammu also illegally taking over these Waqf properties.
During my research, I was able to access the minutes of a meeting in Revenue and Haj and Auqaf ministry on February 2, 2006, where the issue of this illegal occupation of Waqf property was discussed. On June 17, 2008, I had contacted the then Secretary Masood H Samoon (an IAS officer who is now retired) to seek his comments. He asked me to write an email to him with the details. I wrote a detailed email in which I gave details of the encroachment of Waqf properties in Jammu till 2008. He never responded.
I am reproducing that email because it shows the scale of the encroachment of the Waqf properties belonging to Jammu Muslims. Here is what I had written…..
“After our phone conversation this afternoon regarding the status of Waqf Council properties that have been encroached upon by government departments, police and private parties in Jammu.
My information is that the government and private parties have illegally occupied 3,144 kanals of Waqf land which includes graveyards.
I have seen the minutes of a meeting called by your predecessor in Revenue and Haj and Auqaf ministry on February 2, 2006, where the issue of this illegal occupation of Waqf property was discussed. The issue of Jamia Masjid in R S Pora, Ziyarat Sharief in Chand Nagar Jammu had been raised – both these religious places have been illegally taken over by encroachers and desecrated.
The details of other encroachments of Waqf Council properties are in detail here.
The Waqf Council owns 46 kanal and nine marla (khasra number 275, 367, 563, 593, 593 min) with a Masjid at Chattha Gujjran, block Marh in Jammu tehsil. The entire property has been illegally occupied by the Education Department that has raised a school building in it. The Masjid has been turned into a Gurudwara and local residents have constructed houses and an approach road on one part of the land.
One kanal and 12 marla of a compound of Ziyarat Sherief of Peer Baba Subhan Ali Shah in Chand Nagar, Jammu has been “illegally and forcibly occupied”. According to official records, the case for the restoration of this Waqf land is pending with the deputy commissioner, Jammu, ever since.
At Thilori Gujjran, tehsil Samba, the Waqf Council owned 49 kanal and five marla (khasras 200, 201, 206) of the graveyard which has been encroached upon. A temple and a government girls school building have come up in the graveyard. Another 65 kanal and seven marla land (khasras 200, 193, 222, 206, 194, 201) of Waqf Council have been illegally occupied and a police training institute, a playground and a temple have been raised over it.
The 34 kanal and 10 marla (Khasra 39) Rehari graveyard and Waqf property has been encroached upon by the army. Though the commission constituted by the government has twice reported in favour of the Waqf, the army does not vacate the occupied graveyard.
Meanwhile, the provincial rehabilitation officer (custodian) has allotted 1785 sq ft (khasra 39) from this graveyard to Ayoudhya Kumari, widow of Bal Krishan Anand. More than 60 kanals of this graveyard land have been allotted to the District Police without any permission from the Waqf Council.
Another 15 marlas of the graveyard have been occupied by the Jammu Municipal Corporation which forcibly constructed a bathroom on one edge of the graveyard while a local resident constructed a cowshed with the cow dung drainage going straight into the graveyard.
The Waqf owns 98 kanal and 10 marla (Khasra 295) land at Keli Mandi in tehsil Samba. The Zila Sainik Board, Samba, has grabbed 16 kanal area of it, the education department has occupied seven marlas to construct the zonal education office while another 16 kanals have been encroached upon by villagers.
The 14 kanal (Khasra 18) graveyard at Rehal Domanian, tehsil Bishna, has been grabbed by the education department which has illegally constructed the government middle school building over it.
The Waqf’s 20 kanal and two marla (Khasra 43) land at village Chinor in Jammu tehsil has been encroached upon by the Incharge Police Post. At Bachyal in block Marh of Jammu tehsil, the Waqf Council’s 39 kanal and 12 marla (Khasra 50, 43 and 42) land has been grabbed by the health department for a public health clinic; by the rural development department for a panchayat garh; while the villagers have also built their houses in it.
In village Mera Jagir, Tehsil Akhnoor, the Waqf’s 65 kanal (Khasra 383) graveyard has been surveyed by public works department for construction of a road while as the locals have started illegal constructions in the graveyard.
At Makhan Pur Gujjran, in R S Pora tehsil, the Waqf Council owned 132 kanal and seven marla (Khasra 347, 348) graveyard. The police have illegally taken over 37 kanal and 10 marla of it for its Border Police Lines while the local people too have grabbed a part of it. According to recent records, only 10 kanal of this land remain for burial purpose.
In Pata Bohri, Tehsil Jammu, the Waqf owned 13 kanals and 16 marlas (Khasras 696, 918, 1126, 1089, 119). The education department built a school building while locals constructed shops and residential houses on the land.
The 26 kanal and six marla land (khasras 190, 445, 191, 197, 381 and 226) belonging to the Waqf Council at Aqal Pur, block Marh is now under a school building and a public health centre. The rest of the land has been encroached upon by villagers.
The Council’s 25 kanal and 13 marla (khasras 387, 388, 389, 390, 391) at Dhatrayal, block Marh has been grabbed by sericulture department, which has turned it into a mulberry nursery.
The education department has grabbed three kanals of Waqf property at Targah in tehsil Akhnoor, 17 marla at Mera Jagir, 39 kanal and three marla at Kangral Sangral (Sohal) tehsil Akhnoor, eight kanal at Pindi Sarochan Kalan and four kanal and 11 marla at Mamka in tehsil R S Pora.
The total encroachment till 2006 is 3144 kanal in which 663 kanal is in Jammu city, 1055 kanal in Akhnoor, 1046 kanal in R S Pora, 30 kanal in Bishna and 350 kanal in Samba.
I would request you to reply to a few questions regarding this issue.
- What is the government doing to resolve this issue of encroachments?
- Did the Revenue/Haj and Auqaf department do any further review after the February 2, 2006 meeting?
- What are the measures that the Revenue/ Haj and Auqaf department has taken to vacate the encroachment of shrines, mosques and graveyards and thus restore their sanctity?
There was no reply from the government. There was also no move to remove these encroachments. Instead, the encroachment and illegal takeover of Waqf properties continued.
The reason why I put these details in the public domain is to explain the real reason behind the communal and bigoted targeting of Jammu Muslims that is going on currently.
(These passages were excerpted from a long write-up that the author has posted on his Facebook wall. The author is a senior journalist.)