House Panel To Probe ‘land Grab’ By Minister

House Panel To Probe ‘land Grab’ By Minister

16 October 2012
Greater Kashmir
Umer Maqbool

Srinagar: In the wake of last week’s hullabaloo in Legislative Council over the alleged forest land grab by Minister for Irrigation and Flood Control, Taj Mohiuddin, LC Chairman Amrit Malhotra has ordered a thorough probe into the matter by a House Committee. Panthers Party legislator Syed Rafiq Shah had accused Taj of being in illegal possession of 13 Kanals of forest land in south Kashmir’s Shopian district and produced documents in support of his claim. The order for constituting the five-member Committee was issued by the Chairman of the Council today and the panel is headed by Murtaza Khan of Peoples Democratic Party. The move of appointing a non-National Conference and non-Congress legislator as the head of the panel is seen as an attempt to keep the probe neutral. Syed Rafiq Shah, Dr Bashir Ahmad Veeri, Khalid Najeeb Suharwardy and Bashir Ahmad Magray are other members of the panel. “The issue in hand has raised a controversy inside and outside the House and there is a strong prima-facie case that warrants a thorough and detailed investigation by a Committee of this House. In the contemporary political environment, failure to constitute a Committee to investigate the matter and establish the facts will be interpreted as an attempt on my part to cover up and shield those whose probity has been challenged,” the order reads. “It will be fair to provide a chance to Taj Mohuiddin who claims innocence and also to the concerned officers of Revenue and Forest Departments to put forth and prove their versions before a House Committee for a thorough and impartial investigation. I, therefore, constitute the Committee to investigate the issues pointed out by me or any other issue that may be relevant to or required for investigation to get to a just conclusion of the matter in hand,” it further reads. The Chairman has also pointed out some ‘inconsistencies’ in the Revenue documents produced before him. “Whereas the Tehsildar states that the land in question has been under the illegal occupation of Taj Mohiuddin “prior” to 1987, the report of the subordinate officials show that the land was occupied by him since Kharief 1987. Whereas Tehsildar claims that the record prior to Kharief 1987 was destroyed when the Tehsil building in Shopian was gutted in March 2005, no such assertion is made in the report of the Patwari and Naib Tehsildar who simply states that the record prior to 1987 was not available as it was submitted to the office of the Tehsildar,” the order reads. “There is yet another interesting fact brought before me as reflected from a document which had been purportedly addressed by Tehsildar Shopian to DC Pulwama. This letter which bears no number or date states that the land in question, as per Fard Partaal, has been recorded in the name of Taj Mohiuddin from the year 1983 (Kharief). It is strange that in one of the documents mentioned herein above, the Tehsildar claims that entire revenue record pertaining to land in question prior to 1987 was gutted in the fire. If that is true as claimed, then how is the record pertaining to the said land of the year 1983 Kharief available,” the order further reads. On last Thursday, LC witnessed high drama when Syed Rafiq Shah displayed documents in support of his accusation that Taj had grabbed forest land in south Kashmir. Taj, however, strongly rebutted the allegation and said that he will quit if the charges against him were proved. Shah had contested the claim of government that no minister was in possession of forest land in Shopian.