Srinagar: Less than a month after the Jammu and Kashmir government cancelled all land transfers under the controversial Roshni Act in view of a high court ruling, it has now begun publishing the names of beneficiaries of the law on its websites.
The first set of names feature prominent politicians, hotels, shopping malls, commercial buildings and a trust connected to the National Conference, among others.
Politicians named as beneficiaries include former J&K finance minister Haseeb Drabu, and his family members. Drabu, who was previously with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was considered the architect of the Bharatiya Janata Party-PDP government in the erstwhile state.
The list also names Nighat Pandit, wife of retired IAS officer Shafi Pandit.
City Walk Mall and Hubson building are among the malls and commercial buildings listed. Hotels named include Hotel Broadway, Hotel Radison, Hotel Ruby and the Residency Hotel. All three are considered landmark properties in Srinagar.
The hotels are owned by prominent businessmen of J&K who have been named as beneficiaries of the Act. These include Mushtaq Ahmed Chaya, and K.K. Amla, who is also associated with the Congress party. Both have been named in the list along with their family members.
Also among the beneficiaries are National Conference (NC)’s Nawai Subah Trust and the Congress’s Khidmat Trust. A total of seven kanal, 15 marlas and 84 sq ft of land were transferred to Khidmat Trust while three kanal and 16 marlas were given to Nawai Subah, said a senior J&K government official. Eight kanals make up one acre of land.
This is the first of many lists that will be made public, said the official who didn’t wish to be named.
The government also issued another list featuring names of alleged illegal encroachers of state land in cases outside of the Roshni Act. This list includes names of four NC leaders — Sajjad Kichloo, Haroon Choudhary, Aslam Goni and Syed Akhoon — and Congress leader Abdul Majid Wani.
Last month, the Jammu and Kashmir government cancelled all land transfers that took place under the Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001 — also known as the Roshni Act. Under the Act, the NC government of the day sought to regularise 20 lakh kanals or 2.5 lakh acres of unauthorised land.
The government order came after the J&K High Court declared the Roshni Act as null and void on 9 October.
According to the HC 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 (4,174 acres) in the Kashmir province.
The HC had ordered the administration to disclose complete identities of influential persons, including ministers, legislators, civil servants, government officials, police officers, businessmen etc., their relatives or persons holding benami for them, who derived benefit under the Roshni Act, within one month.
Influential names, however, were a thin minority in the total beneficiaries of the Roshni Act, an ex-revenue official told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
The copy has been updated to reflect that the government has released multiple lists of illegal encroachers.