J&K Forest Department Declares 300 Families in Poonch District Illegal Occupants of Forestland

Reported by

Rabiya Bashir

Published on

December 6, 2021

December 6, 2021

Updated on

December 6, 2021

Location of Conflict

Poonch

Poonch

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Forest Administration (Other than Protected Areas)

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

1472

ha

Starting Year

2020

State

Jammu and Kashmir

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

In December, 2020, the Jammu and Kashmir administration published the names of 300 families illegally occupying more than 1,472 hectares of forestland in Poonch district in Jammu. The families belong to the Gujjar and Bakerwal communities. Tribal activist Javed Rahi told LCW that the forest department cannot even send an eviction notice to these communities as the Forest Rights Act (FRA) is now in place in Jammu and Kashmir. We visited Poonch district, where half of the population is on the verge of losing their livelihood. Talib Hussain, chairperson of the All Tribal Coordination Committee, told media that under the former forest policy, forest dwellers and nomads were given a certificate known as Matto, which entitled Gujjar and Bakerwal communities to grazing rights on forestland. We were also allowed to make temporary structures and use the forestland for cultivation. But all that was over after the scrapping of Article 370. As it is, there are forces propagating lies about Muslim communities grabbing land. If the eviction of the socalled illegal occupants is selective, if the authorities only target the Muslim community, we will know for sure that all this is part of a communal agenda, he said. According to the list published by the forest department, Poonch district has the thirdhighest area of forestland under alleged encroachment, after Ramban and Rajouri forest divisions. Mohit Gera, Kashmir's principal chief conservator of forests, told LCW that the forest department is 'not against any community and the evictions are only meant to stop the illegal use of forestland. In fact, we want to work with the people to protect the forests. Any action is taken when forestland is encroached, he added.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Complaint against procedural violations

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

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Other, Constitutional Law

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 that 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 the 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
Section 4 [Estate Officer to call upon person suspected of encroachment 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]
Constitution of India, 1950
Article 14 [State shall not deny to any person equality before the law and equal protection of the law]
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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

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Scheduled Tribe status or lack of status

Non-rehabilitation of displaced people

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

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

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

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?

Mohit Gera, J&K principal chief conservator of forests, told LCW that the forest department is 'not against any community and we are only evicting encroachers who have occupied forestland'.

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Mohit Gera, J&K principal chief conservator of forests, told LCW that the forest department is 'not against any community and we are only evicting encroachers who have occupied forestland'.

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:  

Image Credit:  

Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

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