Roshni Act: After revealing names, Govt to retrieve land

After disclosing the names of beneficiaries who have been vested land under the Roshni Act, the Jammu and Kashmir administration is working out the next line of action to retrieve the land.

A top government official informed that currently there is two-pronged action going on in the alleged Roshni scam. “One, the government is following the court direction and uploading the names of beneficiaries including the politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and influential persons who have got land in the Roshni scheme and, second, is the investigation part being carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation which is probing the whole scheme and so far seven FIRs have been registered by the investigation agency.”

“Apart from revealing the names, the government is working on follow-up which as per the court direction is to evict the encroachers. All mutations under the Roshni Act stand cancelled,” he said.

“Principal Secretary to Government, Revenue Department, shall also work out the modalities and plan to evict encroachers from such State Land and retrieve the State land within a period of six months. Principal Secretary to Government, Revenue Department, shall work out modalities for handling the money received for these lands after annulment,” the JK government had said in a statement

“The Chief Secretary of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir is monitoring the matter and ensuring that the inquiry by CBI is not hampered in any manner on account of concealment of documents, records, requisite assistance or cooperation on the part of the official machinery”.

On November 1, the Union Territory administration cancelled all land transfers that took place under the JK State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001 – also known as the Roshni Act – under which 2.5 lakh acres of land was to be transferred to the existing occupants.

The principal secretary and revenue department have been asked to work out a plan to retrieve large tracts of state land vested under the Act. According to the high court order, a total of 6,04,602 kanals (75,575 acres) of state land had been regularised and transferred to the occupants. This included 5,71,210 kanals (71,401 acres) in Jammu and 33,392 kanals (4174 acres) in the Kashmir province.

According to the order, complete identities of influential persons, including ministers, legislators, bureaucrats, government officials, police officers and businessmen, their relatives or persons holding benami for them, who have derived benefit under the Roshni Act, will be made public within a period of one month.

The scheme was finally repealed by the then governor Satya Pal Malik on November 28, 2018.

Amid reports about its widespread misuse, the entire legislation was challenged before the high court which stayed the proceedings under the Act and also directed that neither the occupants having been conferred upon the ownership rights shall sell these lands nor can raise constructions on such lands.

In 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General had estimated that only Rs 76 crore had been raised from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013, against the target of Rs 25,000 crore.

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday issued a third list of Roshni beneficiaries which includes name of family members of a former legislator from Jammu, two retired Superintendents of Police, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, scores of government employees and businessmen.

In Srinagar, majority of cases of Roshni have been reported from two commercial areas of Karan Nagar and Rajbagh and its adjacent areas where the beneficiaries have taken up prized possessions by paying meagre amounts.

ABDULLAH’s, BAKSHI’s RELATIVES NAMED AS “ILLEGAL OCCUPANTS:”

The revenue department in Srinagar has disclosed the names of five occupants whose cases were approved under Roshni Scheme, but they did not pay and continued “illegally occupation” of the land under their possession.

Among these are Mohammed Aslam Mattoo, relatives of Abdullah family (1 kanal and 1 marla), businessman Jagdesh Mehta son of Ramchand Mehta (4 kanals), relatives of former Prime Minister of J&K Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad i.e. Ghulam Hassan Bakshi, Nazir Ahmed, Mohammed Shafi, Mohammed Yousuf, Abdul Qayoom, sons of Bakshi Ghulam Nabi (1 kanal and 5 marla), whereas others belong to a prominent family are in possession of 8 kanal and 5 marla land, and a prominent businessman (5 kanal and 1 marla) in Srinagar.

11 NRI BUSINESSMEN, RETIRED IAS IN SRINAGAR AMONG BENEFICIARIES:

At least 11 Non-Resident Indian (NRI) businessmen of Srinagar in US and Dubai, three other businessmen from Srinagar including one Vishal Khanna, son of Bushan Lal, three former IAS officers and their families, one doctor from Sonawar working in foreign, four families of politicians in Rajbagh area have been listed among the beneficiaries of Roshni Act in Srinagar.

In Jammu, the third list of beneficiaries includes farmers, agriculturists, businessmen who have been vested ownership of land under the Roshni Act.