“Land is our only source of income,” Kashmir village erupts against land transfer to CRPF

Villagers from Pulwama protesting in Srinagar's Press Enclave. | Picture by author arrangement

On November 29, scores of villagers from Pulwama assembled in Press Enclave Srinagar and protested against the “allotment of their agricultural land to CRPF” for the establishment of a military camp. The protesting villagers said the land transfer will snatch their livelihood. 

Auqib Javeed | TwoCircles.net

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SRINAGAR –  The residents of South Kashmir’s Pulwama village are up-in-arms against the government for ‘alloting’ their agricultural land to Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF) for the establishment of CRPF camp in the area.

On Monday, a group of locals from Oukhoo, a village in Pulwama came to Srinagar’s press enclave—some 35 kilometres away from their hometown, to protest the allotment of the land and appealed to Lieutenant Governor to reconsider his decision.

“We have been cultivating rice, paddy and wheat on the land for decades. We are dependent on this land and have no other source of income. If this land will be given to CRPF, where will we people go?” said Haji Mohammad Sultan Alai, a villager from Kakapora, Pulwama. 

He said their forefathers would cultivate paddy, mustard, wheat etc on this land now suddenly the administration has decided to start the construction of CRPF camps on this land by declaring it state land.

According to a report, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has written to the Home Ministry of India asking to accelerate the transfer of a recently allotted 65.5 acres of land in Kashmir, the New Indian Express reported.

The CRPF wrote the letter around two weeks ago requesting the MHA India to grant funds, which it could then pay to the JK administration to take over the land and start construction of designated accommodation for paramilitary personnel, the report quoted a senior Home Ministry official as saying.

The report quoting a senior CRPF official said the paramilitary force has sought more land considering the huge deployment of CRPF in JK due to the security situation there.

The centre has deployed additional paramilitary troops in Kashmir following the targeted killings of non-locals since October. 

On Home Minister Amit Shah’s instructions, five companies of central paramilitary forces were deployed in the Valley mainly in Srinagar city.

The security forces have set up additional bunkers and checkpoints in Srinagar and have intensified the frisking in the city.

There are about 65,000 CRPF personnel deployed in the valley, and an additional 25 CRPF companies have been deployed since the attack on civilians in the valley.

Following the deployment, the troops occupied many marriage halls in Srinagar on November 4 prompting an outrage. However, the halls were vacated soon.

In October, the Jammu and Kashmir administration allotted land at eight places in south Kashmir to the CRPF to build permanent camps for personnel and their families, triggering fears among the general public.

The administrative council chaired by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha approved the transfer of 524 kanals or 65 acres in favour of the CRPF in Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian for establishing “battalion camping sites”.

Officials said that this will provide for safe and proper accommodation for CRPF personnel and their families.

They said the permanent camps would be set up in the villages of Brah, Jummo and Bhanpahari in Anantnag; Allowpora-Sheikhpora and Zawoora-Baderhama in Shopian; and Oukhoo, Kadlabal and Koil in Pulwama.

However, the inhabitants of the Pulwama village have expressed anger and have threatened to intensify the protest if their demands are not met.

“We are asking Lieutenant Governor, where will we go?” a woman protester said, adding they are “unemployed and that there are no business opportunities for them.” 

Baseer Ul Haq Chaudary, district commissioner, Puwlama told TwoCircles.net that the land belongs to the state and has every right on it. 

He said the villagers were using it illegally that doesn’t mean they can own it.

“You can use state land but the right on the land is of state. There is no point in protesting,” he added. 


Auqib Javeed is a journalist based in Kashmir. He tweets at @AuqibJaveed.