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CBI files FIR against Taj Mohiuddin for alleged forest land grab under Roshni Act

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New Delhi:  The CBI has booked former Jammu and Kashmir minister Taj Mohiuddin in connection with alleged illegal regularisation of encroached forest land in his name under the Roshni Act, officials said Thursday.

Along with Mohiuddin, a former Congress minister in the erstwhile state, the agency has also booked Mohammaed Ramzan Thakur, former Deputy Commissioner Shopian, Mohammed Yousuf Zargar, the then Additional Deputy Commissioner, Hafizullah Shah, the then Assistant Commissioner Revenue and Ghulam Hassan Rather, the then Tehsildar.

The CBI received a complaint from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory which is now part of the FIR, they said.

The then Tehsildar Shopian had processed and placed 190 cases of vesting of ownership rights to the occupants of state land before a committee chaired by Thakur on June 16, 2007. The committee approved only 17 of them including over 13 kanals of land which was allegedly illegally encroached upon by Mohiuddin.

It is alleged that the land encroached upon by Mohiuddin belonged to the Forest department which had raised objections to its regularisation under the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants) Act also known as the Roshni Act.

The objections were allegedly ignored by the committee which had told the Forest department that the matter had been disposed of and their objections did not serve any purpose.

The Divisional Forest Officer of the area had again raised objection to regularisation under the Roshni Act and returned the file.

“The concerned public servants of Revenue department have by commission of illegal acts processed, prepared and approved the illegal claim of the beneficiary Taj Mohiuddin over the said land which belongs to the Forest department thereby paved the way for conferment of undue pecuniary advantage to said beneficiary…,” the complaint said.

On November 01, the Union territory administration cancelled all land transfers that took place under the JK State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001 – also known as the Roshni Act – under which 2.5 lakh acres of land was to be transferred to the existing occupants.

The Principal Secretary Revenue department has been asked to work out a plan to retrieve large tracts of state land vested under the Act.

According to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court 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 (4174 acres) in the Kashmir province.

A number of former ministers, several other politicians and a former bureaucrat figured in the list of beneficiaries who have availed land under the now scrapped Roshni Act or encroached state land for residential or commercial purposes.

The lists were made public by the divisional administration, both in Kashmir and Jammu regions, in accordance with the October 9 directive of the high court which had declared Roshni Act “illegal, unconstitutional and unsustainable” and ordered a CBI probe into the allotment of land under this law.

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