On 22nd March, a freelance journalist, Irfan Mehraj, in Indian-occupied Kashmir was arrested by the…
Indian state using “encroachment” narrative and demolition drives to economically marginalize Kashmiris
On 6th February, a rights organization called Legal Forum for Kashmir released a report titled “The Great Land Grab: Disempowering People in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir”.
The report highlighted a new mechanism of state-led persecution of Kashmiris under the pretext of a fictitious anti-encroachment drive in 20 districts of Jammu & Kashmir. The Indian state has identified what they call “state land”, measuring up to 178005.213 acres in Kashmir region and 25,159.56 acres in Jammu. While the Indian state claims that these tracts of land have been illegally occupied by the people of Kashmir, the residents basically owned the said land and properties under the Big Landed Estate Abolition Act (Agrarian Reforms Act), JK State Land Vesting of Ownership Act 2001, JK Evacuees (Administration) of Property Act, Jammu and Kashmir Tenancy Act 1980, Jammu and Kashmir Common Lands (Regulation) Act,1956 and other numerous orders passed by the erstwhile state government in favor of landless peasants.
In addition to this, according to the report, the occupying authorities are retrieving the alleged encroached land to “facilitate the creation of private land banks under the Hindu nationalist government’s New Central Sector Scheme for Industrial Development of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir which was notified under the J&K Industrial Policy, Jammu & Kashmir Private Industrial Estate Development Policy (2021-2030), and J&K Industrial Land Allotment Policy.”
To be precise, the Indian state is dispossessing Kashmiris of their land and instead handing over these lands to major corporate investors in India, for their profit-making, at the expense of the locals.
The state has also used “encroachment” drives to silence the Kashmiri political dissidents. While the confiscation of properties and land has been used by the state to repress Kashmiri pro-freedom activists for long, now it is also being weaponized to intimidate the pro-India politicians, who criticized the extremist policies of the current Modi-led nationalist political dispensation. This shows that even the limited criticism of state’s human rights violations is no longer tolerated in Kashmir.
Bulldozers have been moving across Kashmir, bringing down shops and other properties of Kashmiris, who have been suddenly rendered homeless and without sources of livelihoods.