J&K Administration Demolishes Homes of over 70 Gujjar, Bakerwal Families in Pahalgam

Reported by

Rabiya Bashir

Legal Data by

Bhavesh Seth, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Moushumi Sharma

Updated by

Published on

August 30, 2021

August 30, 2021

Updated on

August 30, 2021

Location of Conflict

Aru, Mamal, Lidroo

Anantnag

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Forest Administration (Other than Protected Areas)

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

52

ha

Starting Year

2020

State

Jammu and Kashmir

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

In November 2020, the Jammu and Kashmir government demolished at least 70 shelters of Gujjar and Bakerwal families in the remote areas of Pahalgam – Aru, Mamal and Lidroo. According to the Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA), 51.5 hectares of forestland (1,020 kanals) were encroached by these nomadic tribes as they built temporary huts – called dokas – on land owned by the forest department.

“We had to follow the orders of the high court to retrieve 2,600 kanals of encroached land across Anantnag, which belongs to the forest department. “We cannot allow encroachment of forestland,” PDA CEO Mushtaq Simnani told LCW.

The PDA had also reportedly issued notices to the families, warning them of forced demolition if they failed to raze their structures themselves and asking them to vacate the land. According to the local people, the authorities in the Lidroo-Wangidar area demolished more than 13 dokas. “Where will we go during the harsh winter? Why will we leave this place when it is our own? We have been living here since ages,” Ahmad told journalists.

Gujjar activist Talib Hussain told LCW, “It is a misnomer to call it encroachment in the first place. The tribal communities are forest people, and these temporary sheds have been their homes for decades. They are not a threat to the forests or the ecology because their traditional lifestyle and culture are in harmony with nature. Their presence, in fact, ensures protection of the forests.”

Javed Rahi, prominent tribal activist in the region, also told LCW that the forests have always been the home of nomadic communities and that the Gujjars and Bakerwals depend on these forests for their livelihood and survival.

The Gujjars and Bakerwals are recognised in the region as Scheduled Tribes, or forest dwellers, under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. Nomads by nature, the communities move from place to place in search of fodder for their livestock. Their settlement on common land is often termed encroachment by the state as they have no legal titles over what the state considers government land.

The absence of permanent land to settle in and the lack of legal titles as well as laws to safeguard their interests has left these nomadic communities vulnerable. The FRA recognises the right of forest-dwelling communities to live on forestland and cultivate the same and mandates that no forest dweller can be evicted if their claim for rights is pending. But the Act is yet to be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir.

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?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Jammu and Kashmir Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1988
Section 5: [Estate Officer has the power to order eviction through a reasoned order if they are satisfied that public premises are occupied by unauthorised occupants]; Section 6: [Estate Officer has the power to order removal of unauthorised construction]; Section 7: [Estate Officer can order the demolition of unauthorised construction, subject to certain procedural conditions]
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section (3)(1)(a) [Right to hold and live on forestland under individual or common occupation for habitation or for self-cultivation by a member or members of a forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribe or other traditional forest dwellers]
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
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)
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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.

  7. 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.

    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

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

The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir took cognizance of encroachments on forestland in the state while hearing a public interest litigation initially filed for the removal of 59 unregistered dairies within the municipal limits of the Jammu Municipal Corporation. On July 3, 2019, the court ordered an enquiry into encroachments on forestlands in the state and demanded information on the steps being taken to remove these encroachments. On September 21, 2020, the high court restrained all authorities from entertaining any petitions/applications with respect to the removal of encroachments in light of the fact that the high court was seized of the matter. Persons aggrieved by the removal of encroachments were allowed to file their applications in PIL No. 25/17 itself. The matter is pending, and the high court is overseeing the encroachment process.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Displacement

Blackmail/threats/intimidation

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

More than 70 homes of Gujjars and Bakerwals were destroyed during an eviction drive. The authorities reportedly threatened them to demolish their homes and vacate the land.

Date of Violation

November 4, 2020

Location of Violation

Mamal, Aru, Lidroo in Pahalgam

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Forest department, Pahalgam Development Authority

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

CEO of Pahalgam Development Authority Mushtaq Simnani told LCW: “We had to follow the orders of the high court to retrieve 2,600 kanals of encroached land across Anantnag, which belongs to the forest department. "We cannot allow encroachment of forestland," he added.

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:

Resources Related to Conflict

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

Image Credit:  

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

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