J&K Forest Department Serves Eviction Notice to 98 Gujjar Families in Kupwara

Reported by

Rabiya BashirLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

April 22, 2021

Location of Conflict

Rangwar village

,

Kupwara

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Forest Administration (Other than Protected Areas)

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

2

ha

State

Jammu and Kashmir

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

In January 2020, at least 98 Gujjar families from Rangwar village in Kupwara district received eviction notices from the Jammu and Kashmir Forest Department. The families had built temporary structures on two hectares of forestland, as claimed by the department. The houses of these families were destroyed in the 2005 earthquake, which forced them to descend nearly three kilometres from the mountains to the ChowkibalTangdhar main road area to find shelter. Here, on a vacant plot, along the bank of Drangyari stream, they built houses using tin and wood shed. Interestingly, they have also named the stream Rangwar. Imran Ahmad, who was six when his family had settled in this village, said the officials threatened to bulldoze their temporary houses. "Where will we go? We will die here but wont allow anybody to touch our shelters. We are poor; our only source of income is working with the army as porters and taking their items to the LoC or in the fields of local villagers. This is great injustice, he said. Rangwar village, which is surrounded by snowcapped mountains and dense forests, has remained a frequent witness to natural disasters. The residents claim that the geology and mining department declared the village as being in a dangerous zone after it had conducted a survey there. According to them, floods in 1992 had washed away many houses. This was followed by a landslide in March 1995, which, too, damaged over a dozen houses. But the earthquake of 2005 was so severe that the residents were forced to abandon their village. They say that officials had then directed them to settle on a vacant plot close to the forests. "Rangwar was always at risk due to landslides and floods and when we had to leave it after the earthquake in 2005, the officials asked us to construct temporary sheds till they could rehabilitate us properly, Afsar Khan, a member of Halqa panchayat, told the media. When LCW contacted the District Forest Officer (DFO), Kupwara, he was not available for comments. Divisional forest officer of Khemil, Mohammad Ayub, confirmed to the media that notices were served to the people who have set up shelters on the forestland. They (villagers) have occupied two hectares of forestland. Notices have been served to them, and the department is waiting for orders from higher authorities." 

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

2

ha

Starting Year

2020

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights, Demand for rehabilitation

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Jammu and Kashmir Forest Department

When LCW contacted the District Forest Officer (DFO), Kupwara, he was unavailable for comments.

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Resources Related to Conflict

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