Have Cash, Will Grab: How Harwan Became A Prime Destination For Those With Big Money
In the foothills of Harwan in Srinagar, massive colonization of state land began surreptitiously since 2016 when Mehbooba Mufti was the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
The encroachment started top down. Baseer Khan, then Divisional Commissioner and Muneer Khan, then IGP Kashmir, were close to then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, and were part of her inner coterie. Baseer Khan and Muneer Khan played a key role in facilitating the land grab for Mufti. Baseer Khan legalized the unauthorized occupation of state land by changing the land title. In this way, floodgates were opened for further occupation of this land by the elites of Srinagar.
List of Some People who Have Land in Harwan
1. Ghulam Hassan Mir, businessman from Lalbazar, 150 kanals apple orchard at Syedpora, Harwan
2. Mohd Ayoub Dar from Habbak, 50 kanals at Syedpora, Harwan
3. Brother of Inspector Ayoub Rather, 50 kanals at Dhara Marg, Harwan
4. Shahid Choudhary, former Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, 15 kanals at Faquir Gugru and three kanals at Nishat
5. Asgar Samoon, four kanals at Dhara, Harwan
6. Najeeb Ahamed, former PRO of Tajmohiuddin, eight kanals at Dharbagh
7. Nazir Mir, businessman and retired ADGP Muneer Khan, joint property of approximately 350 kanals, Chatterhama near Syedpora
8. Naseema Lanker, former bureaucrat, 90 kanals at Syedpora, including some migrant property
9. Shabir Qadri, Businessman, 100 kanals at Syedpora
10. Engineer Naseem Khan, orchard over 100 kanals between Theed and Mulnar
11. Farooq Rinzoo, retired Deputy Commissioner, 15 kanals near Dachigam
12. Farooq Shah, retired Deputy Commissioner, 20 kanals at Dhara , three kanals with house at Chandpora and 10 kanals at Ishber near water canal
13. Khazir Mohd Mir, Businessman, 150 kanals at Saidpora
14. Abass (katar), 80 kanals at Syedpora
15. Kamaran (News Editor), 50 kanals at Dhara
Long History of Land Grabbing In Kashmir
Over the past 30 years, the land mafia in Kashmir has cultivated and nurtured assets in the terror ecosystem of the region. These assets in the terror ecosystem are used by the land mafia as and when required.
There are hundreds of such incidents where the land mafia with the help of their assets in militant organizations deliberately created lawlessness across Kashmir for a specific purpose. Using the law and order situations as a façade, the mafia undertook land grabbing or cutting of forest trees on a massive scale. Over the last three decades, timber smuggling has flourished in Kashmir and thousands of acres of state land have been grabbed by the land mafia all across Kashmir valley.
The hawala money which came from different channels was invested by the mafia in real estate. In the countryside, particularly in and around Kashmir’s famous tourist resorts, the land mafia in connivance with the forest officials encroached upon forest and state land for commercial purposes. In urban centers such as in Srinagar, hawala money was invested in real estate business by the separatists directly or indirectly. New colonies came up in the outskirts of Srinagar, Anantnag and also in the outskirts of Jammu in large numbers.
On the other hand, extremist religious groups like Jamaat e Islami grabbed community land all over Kashmir valley for establishing a large network of schools and madrasas. Going by the statistics, one may come to the conclusion that two kinds of people flourished in the last 30 years of turmoil in Kashmir. One group comprises those who were linked directly or indirectly to secessionist activities. The other group comprises those who grabbed state land. Gradual land grabbing was steadily facilitated and aided by the lawlessness and stone-pelting incidents which were created in the areas.
During the 2016 agitation, Kashmir’s land mafia created lawlessness at many pockets in Srinagar city like Anchar, Soura, etc. Under the garb of protests, the mafia encroached upon some wetlands in Srinagar. The mafia would undertake the filling of the wetland during nighttime. During the day, the so-called stone-pelters would patrol the roads, protecting their land grabbing. Heavy stone pelting was witnessed in and around Anchar wetland during the 2016 agitation at the behest of the notorious land mafia. The stone-pelting was the façade to facilitate large-scale land grabbing here.