Jammu and Kashmir Government on Wednesday disclosed that around 2710 kanals of Wakf land are under the illegal occupation of Army and paramilitary forces in the state.
Replying to a question by MLC, Zafar Iqbal Manhas seeking details of illegally occupied Wakf land by the Army and civilians in JK, the minister of Hajj and Auqaf, Farooq Ahmad Andrabi in the upper house said: "Army and other paramilitary forces have illegally occupied 2710 kanals and 16 marlas of Wakf land in JK."
The minister said that 896 kanal Wakf land is under illegal occupation of the government departments and around 2390 kanals have been occupied by the civilians in Jammu and Kashmir.
"Government is actively pursuing with the government/agencies concerned including Army to either seek regularization of the occupied land or ensure its vacation," he said and added that Special Officer Auqaf has been asked to separately identify the land under unauthorized occupation of Army, BSF, CRPF and Police so that the matter is taken up at appropriate levels for regularization or vacation.
He added that special officer Auqaf has been issued instructions to pursue with the civilian departments to either vacate the land or seek its regularization.
MLC, Zaffar Manhas while interrupting the minister's speech said the government should either get the land vacated from the illegal occupants or charge them rent as per the prevalent market rates, to which the minister sought six month's time.
"I have just taken up the ministry, I don't want to talk about the past, but situation in last 25 years was such that the land was given to Army and other forces," he said adding that the government would take up the issue with concerned quarters.
The minister in his reply said that the land measuring 96650 kanals and 13 marlas has been notified as Wakf land in the state including 55014 kanals and 16 marlas in Kashmir province and 41635 kanals and 17 marlas in Jammu province.
Meanwhile, the reply of the minister created uproar in the house, as the opposition bench accused the government of adopting discriminatory approach in replying to the queries of members.
G. N Monga, Congress MLC said that he had asked the same question yesterday. "But reply from government was that no land is being illegally occupied by the forces."
Opposition members from NC backed him and asked the minister to explain the reason.
To which, Minister said that the question of Congress legislator pertained to the Wakf board.
To mention, the government on Tuesday had said that Jammu and Kashmir Wakf Board had incurred more expenditure than the income it had generated in the past one year.
In its written reply to a query raised by MLC Ghulam Nabi Monga regarding total income of Wakf property and expenditure of the Board, the government said the total income from Wakf Board properties for 2015-16 was Rs 23.28 crore while as total expenditure during this time was Rs 23.48 crore.
The BJP legislator Ramesh Arora said that the Army does not utilize any land until state provides. "The land in JK has been provided by the state to the Army and other forces," he added.
The BJP legislators further demanded that government should consider providing Wakf land to the non-Muslims as well.
Another BJP MLC from Kashmir, Sofi Yusuf stated that the wakf property including musafir Khanas has been encroached upon.