Forest Department Evicts Bakarwal Families in Jammu, Allegedly Questions 'Need' for Land

Reported by

Mubashir Bukhari

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Moushumi Sharma

Updated by

Published on

February 17, 2022

February 17, 2022

Updated on

February 17, 2022

Location of Conflict

Nagrota

Jammu

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Forest Administration (Other than Protected Areas)

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

0

ha

Starting Year

2020

State

Jammu and Kashmir

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

In October 2020, the Jammu and Kashmir forest department sent an eviction notice to over seven Bakarwal families in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu. The notice reportedly asked them to vacate their houses and leave the area. After initial resistance and pleas, the families gave in.

The families claimed they were threatened by officials. “We were told that if we did not vacate the land, they will ransack our houses, thrash us and throw us out,” Fareed, one of the evictees, told the media. He argues that the land belongs to his ancestors and that his family has been living here for the past 60 years. “I have all the documents with me. The officials even checked the documents but asked why the Bakarwals need land as they are always on the move,” he added.

Mohammad Ashraf, another person from the community, said, “We were told that there is no need to educate our children as we are vagabonds, and our children will follow us into the same line of work; that education is a waste for them.”

Divisional Forest Officer Alok Mariya denied the Bakarwals’ allegation that the forest department had threatened them. “They had encroached upon forestland and were not ready to vacate their houses, so we had to serve them formal notices and they had no choice but to leave,” he told LCW.

Following the eviction, the Dalit OBC Minority, an organisation working to safeguard the rights of vulnerable sections, held a protest at Ambedkar Chowk in Jammu. It submitted a memorandum to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, apprising him of the issue of “illicit removal of tribals from their habitations”.

Terming the evictions illegal, Javaid Rahi, general secretary of the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, told LCW that the forest department is targeting poor people who only erect temporary sheds in summer and continue to move from place to place during winter. “These people depend on the forests, and they need land for grazing their cattle. Without any shelter at the moment, they are wandering from one place to another,” he said.

Rahi also explained that the Union laws are applicable to the Union Territory since August 5, 2019, and that the tribal communities can go to court and claim their rights over land under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. However, the extension of the Act to Jammu and Kashmir has not been formally notified yet.

The Gujjars and Bakarwals – largely nomadic Muslims - roughly comprise about 12 per cent of J&K’s population. Without legal recognition of their land rights, these communities have been facing marginalisation and eviction for decades.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 2(a) [Community Forest Resource defined to be customary forestland to which community has traditional access] Section 3 [Forest rights of forest-dwelling tribes to include right of ownership, access to collect and use minor forest produce which has been traditionally collected within village boundaries. Such rights also include right to in situ rehabilitation, including alternative land, if traditional forest-dwelling tribes have been illegally evicted or displaced from forestland] Section 4(5) [Forest-dwelling tribes may not be evicted from occupied forestland before registration and verification process is complete]
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
In 2020, the high court directed the forest department to proceed expeditiously and retrieve encroached forestland across the state.
SAVE (through its Chairperson) v. State of Jammu and Kashmir and Ors. (PIL No. 25/2017- IA(2/2017) CM(1456/2020), Order dated 28.10.2020, High Court of J&K)
In 2020, the high court directed the forest department to proceed expeditiously and retrieve encroached forestland across the state.
Constitution of India, 1950
Article 14 [Protection against arbitrary state action]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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:

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Scheduled Tribe status or lack of status

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

October 27, 2020

Location of Violation

Nagrota Jammu

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Media-based activism/alternative media

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Forest department

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Divisional Forest Officer Alok Moriya told LCW that the department did not threaten the families. "They had encroached upon forestland and were not ready to vacate their houses, so we had to serve them formal notices and they had no choice but to leave," 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:

Bakerwals, Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

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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