Minister, 2 ex-ministers, officials illegal occupiers of forest land 

A senior minister in the coalition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government and two former ministers besides two government officials and hotels have been accused of encroaching forest land in Jammu and Kashmir.

This information was given by Minister for Forest Choudhary Lal Singh, in reply to a question by Shakti Raj Parihar in the Legislative Assembly today. The reply said that an area of 26.20 kanals of forest land in compartment V-4c Sedev of Shopian forest division in south Kashmir was found to be encroached by former minister Taj Mohiuddin (Congress).  Under section 48(a) of Jammu and Kashmir Forest Act, eviction notices have been served upon Mohiuddin for vacating of the encroachment.

However, he has filed an appeal in Jammu and Kashmir Special Tribunal Sringar where the matter is under trial, the minister said in the reply. He said present minister in the coalition government Abdul Gani Kohli, has constructed an educational institution in Khasra number 356 about 15 years back. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the High Court.

Recently, the Vigilance Organisation (VO) has sought the information regarding status of the land. When the demarcation was done by the forest department, it was revaled that about 2 kanals of forest land was under encroachment of Kohli. However, the Revenue Department had submitted its report stating that the educational institution owned by Kohli falls in state land under Khasra number 264. The matter is now sub-judice before the High Court, the reply said.

The reply said there are 98 kanals and 10 marlas of forest land in Sunjwan, Jammu. 27 kanals and 10 marlas is under encroachment. He said per Nishandehi carried in 2007 by Revenue Authority, 23 kanals encroached upon. The reply said that former minister Bashir Ahmad and Farida Begum have encroached 4 kanals and 10 marlas respectively. Presently Tavneer Ahmad, Yasir Bashir, Naseer Ahmad, Sajjad Ahmad, sons of Bashir Ahmad are in possession of the 4 kanals of land. In 2008 high court was approached and case is under trial in the court of law.

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