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

Reported by

Rabiya Bashir

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

April 22, 2021

April 22, 2021

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

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

2

ha

Starting Year

2020

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." 

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand for rehabilitation

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

Other, Procedural Laws, Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Land Reform Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001
Section 8 [Conditions for vesting of rights over land from the state to the occupants]; Section 9 [Estate Officer shall have the power to evict and the assistant commissioner has to give five days' notice for eviction]
Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Rules, 2007
Rule 8 [This rule lays down the procedure for eviction which requires the issue of notice of one month for surrender of land, and failure to surrender the land would entail the issue of an eviction warrant]
Jammu and Kashmir Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1988
Section 5 [If public premises is occupied by unauthorised occupants the Estate Officer has the power to order an eviction, and failure to comply with the order can be met with as much force as deemed necessary by the Estate Officer to take possession]; Section 6 [The Estates Officer has the power to order the removal of unauthorised construction]; Section 7 [The Estates Officer has the power to 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 1(2) [This provision brings Jammu & Kashmir within the scope of applicability of the Act after the revocation of Special Status of Jammu & Kashmir]; Section 3(a) [ Forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers have the right to hold and live on forestland]; Section 4 [This provision recognises and vests forest rights in forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers and other rights such as that of rehabilitation and resettlement in case of displacement]
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Amendment Rules, 2012
Rule 12B (5) [This provision provides for conversion of forest villages, unrecorded settlements on forestland and habitations of forest dwellers into revenue villages]
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
Section 1(2) [This provision makes the Act applicable to Jammu and Kashmir after the revocation of its Special status and statehood]; Section 3 (1) (iv),(v), (xiv), (xv) [It is a punishable offence if a non-member of a Scheduled Caste of Scheduled Tribe wrongfully cultivates, occupies, or dispossess land owned, occupied or used by a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled tribe or denies them access to public property or forces them out of their homes or village]
Section 41 [Special provisions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and prior consent of Gram Sabha or Panchayat]; Section 41(9) [Alienation of land to be deemed null and void due to disregard of regulations]; Section 38 [Collector has power to take possession of acquired land after full payment of compensation within three months, and completion of resettlement and rehabilitation six months prior to submergence of the lands acquired]
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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

Violation of free prior informed consent

Non-rehabilitation of displaced people

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Yes

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:

Displacement

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

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Jammu and Kashmir Forest Department

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

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

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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