Jammu and Kashmir’s Union Territory administration continues its crackdown on properties allegedly encroaching government land and has issued a new order for tehsildars to ensure that the agricultural land of missing people is not sold or the crop proceeds used by any third party. The tehsildars have been asked to declare the missing individuals as “presumed dead” and to not issue any revenue documents for the land.
The order was issued on January 31 by the office of the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, as it is suspected that these properties are being used to finance terrorism. The properties in question largely belong to people who went to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir during the peak of militancy and have not returned since or to individuals who have joined the militancy and have been untraceable for years.
Investigations have revealed the presence of such land patches in all tehsils of the Valley, with police informing the administration that these properties are being used to finance terrorism. The official noted that rules stipulate that if a landholder is absent from the village for more than seven years, the tehsildar shall presume that the individual is dead and pass orders accordingly.
Family members or other co-sharers in blood relation may use the share of these “presumed dead” individuals, but they are not entitled to sell, gift, or in any manner alienate the share. No revenue documents of such lands shall be issued. The administration has ordered the necessary entry to be made by the tehsildars.
The ongoing anti-encroachment drive has generated controversy, with political leaders from parties such as the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party calling the exercise unjust and anti-poor, aimed at targeting a particular community. However, the J&K administration has denied the allegations, stating that the drive has not affected the poor and that politicians are criticizing it because they have lost their own properties built on encroached government land. The order clarifies that this does not apply to properties held by migrants, so as not to affect properties of persecuted minorities who left the Valley due to fear.