12 Gujjar-Bakerwal Families Left Homeless after Jammu Development Authority Demolishes Homes

Reported by

Mubashir Bukhari

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Moushumi Sharma

Updated by

Published on

March 24, 2022

March 24, 2022

Updated on

March 24, 2022

Location of Conflict

Roop Nagar

Jammu

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Other Kind of Land Use

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

12

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

2

ha

Starting Year

2022

State

Jammu and Kashmir

Sector

Land Use

On January 11, 2022, the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) retrieved two hectares of land following a demolition drive in Roop Nagar. At least 17 structures belonging to a dozen families from the Gujjar and Bakerwal tribes were destroyed. The drive was jointly launched by the JDA, the police and the district administration.
Akbar Hussain, a resident of the area, told the media that around 200 police and CISF personnel surrounded the locality and did not allow anyone to enter the area. “It was 8.30 in the morning. Most of the men, who work as milkmen, had left for the day. Only women and elders were at home. The authorities came in with JCBs and started throwing out our belongings,” he said, adding that the demolition drive lasted for four to five hours.
Another resident, Choudhary Nazir, informed the media that the families whose homes were destroyed had been living in the area for more than 70 years. “The officials did not inform us, nor did they send any notice,” he added.
The demolition drive sparked widespread protests. Hundreds of people hit the roads and raised slogans against the JDA. “This is injustice against our community. They are targeting us in this harsh winter. If this injustice does not stop, we will start agitations in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh,” Manzoor Khatanna, a resident of Jammu, told LCW.
Nasreena Akther, a mother of a two-month-old child, feared for her child’s health in the harsh winter. “How can I protect my child from the biting cold? Where we will go? They have demolished our houses and ransacked our goods and belongings,” she told the media.
According to Advocate M.R. Qureshi, who is representing the affected families, they had approached the high court in 2015 for conferment of ownership rights of the land under the Roshni Act. But the petition seeking regularisation of the land became ‘infructuous’ when the court nullified the Roshni Act in October 2020. He further said that the revenue records show these families to be in possession of the land even before 1947. “The entries made in revenue records in 1978 show that this land was cultivated by these families even before the Partition,” he said.
Some activists have accused the government of ‘selective targeting of communities’. Roop Nagar is a Muslim-dominated area mainly inhabited by Gujjars and Bakerwals. Zahid Parwaz Choudhary, a tribal activist, told LCW that the JDA has launched selective demolition drives against the communities. “Is this the development of the government? Evicting people and rendering them homeless? These people have been living in the area since ages,” he said.
The JDA has denied these allegations. JDA Vice Chairperson Pankaj Magotra told LCW that the claims made by the Gujjar-Bakerwal families are not authentic. “We are not targeting any specific community. We are simply following government orders,” he said. Another JDA official, who wished anonymity, told LCW that the land belongs to the JDA and that they will continue to retrieve their land.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand for rehabilitation

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Complaint against procedural violations

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Urban

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
Section (3)(1)(g) [Wrongful dispossession of a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe from his land or interference with the enjoyment of his rights over any land will constitute an offence under the Act and is liable for punishment]
Jammu and Kashmir Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1988
Section 4 [Estate Officer to call upon person suspected of encroaching by a notice in writing to produce documentary evidence within seven days of date of notice]; Section 5 [Estate Officer required to make an order of eviction with recorded reasons if the public premises are to be vacated]; Section 12 [Affected parties may appeal the order of Estate Officer under Section 5 to the District Magistrate of the district in which the public premises are situated within 12 days of publication of the order]
Article 14 [Right to equality and protection from arbitrary state action]; Article 21 [Right to life with dignity]
Constitution of India, 1950
Article 14 [Right to equality and protection from arbitrary state action]; Article 21 [Right to life with dignity]
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Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-rehabilitation of displaced people

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Scheduled Tribe status or lack of status

Violation of free prior informed consent

Violation of fundamental rights

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh

Case Number

OWP no. 1589 of 2015

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

As the Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, had already been held unconstitutional earlier, the high court stated that no rights on the land can be conferred under such Act. The petition was deemed infructuous and dismissed. However, the court stated that the petitioners could avail of any other remedy available to them.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Displacement

Other harassment

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

JDA officials allegedly demolished the houses of 12 families rendering them homeless and also ranscaked their belongings.

Date of Violation

January 10, 2022

Location of Violation

Roop Nagar, Jammu

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Media-based activism/alternative media

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Jammu Development Authority

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Pankaj Magotra, vice chairperson of the Jammu Development Authority, told LCW that the claims made by the Gujjar-Bakerwal families were not authentic. “We are not targeting any specific community. We are simply following government orders,” he said.

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Gujjars, Bakerwals

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
A damaged house in Roop Nagar following the demolition

A damaged house in Roop Nagar following the demolition

Image Credit:  

Zulkarnain Chowdhary, advocate and activist

A damaged house in Roop Nagar following the demolition

A collpased roof after the demolition

Image Credit:  

Zulkarnain Chowdhary, advocate and activist

Zulkarnain Chowdhary, advocate and activist

Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

Text LinkLand Conflict Watch
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