Encroachment on State Land

J&K should focus on land mafia and spare the poor The decision of Lieutenant General Manoj Sinha’s administration to retrieve state land that has been encroached upon has evoked mixed response from the general public. It is seen by some as a drive against the influential land mafia, including politicians and bureaucrats. They are expecting the axe to fall on the big sharks who have grabbed state-owned land and exploited its resources. Non-state players and anti-nationals too have grabbed large chunks of state-owned land and even used it against the state and its institutions. To that extent the decision is timely and appropriate. What is, however, a cause for concern is the drive against poor and petty encroachers who have encroached in marlas not in kanals and that too adjacent to their own lands. The move to act against such encroachers have sent shock waves across the length and breadth of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The poor particularly are anguished and aghast. There are hundreds and even thousands of poor families who are bound to suffer and maybe become homeless if the government goes ahead with its drive to seize back all state-owned land. And there are politicians ready to use this opportunity to incite the poor who are feeling aggrieved and helpless to rise against the state. Some have already started talking in that fashion. It is certainly an issue that has the potential to mobilize the general public against the state and could have consequences that would be detrimental to the interests of J&K. There could be an attempt by the land mafia and anti-national elements too to use the situation to destabilize the state.
The administration cannot afford to treat the poor at par with the big sharks, the land mafia. It is in the interest of the state to isolate and alienate the mafia of politicians, businessmen and anti-national elements. Let the axe fall on them alone. It is wise to avoid the backlash and restrict the action to the rich land mafia.


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