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Kashmir terror outfit issues death threat to officials in land eviction drive

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Terror outfit ‘The Resistance Front’ (TRF), which according to government officials is a front for the Pakistan-based jihadist organisation Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, has threatened to kill any official, including the drivers of the bulldozers, associated with the current operation of retrieving the State and Community lands from illegal occupants in Jammu and Kashmir.

A circular which appeared on the known terror portal ‘KashmirFight’, which is banned across India, said on Sunday evening that its fighters would target “anyone who’s either the owner or driver of these bulldozers or JCBs…and anyone who is working in revenue department from peon to clerk to patwari, naib tehsildar or tehsildar or DC, involved or not”.

“Whosoever is working in this (Revenue) department is on the target list”, said the purported terror circular. It complained that the people in Kashmir watched the demolition of the properties of “resistance lovers” as mute spectators but the TRF would “fight for your cause for the sake of Allah”.

The circular of seven bullet points asked the people “to burn down the houses of all those perpetrators and target these people from revenue department if they are living in your neighbourhood, we will be at your back and take the responsibility of these acts.

“There will be no distinction between good employee and bad employee, everyone under the target of the barrel of resistance fighters’ gun”, the TRF said in its explicit threat to all employees of the Union Territory’s Revenue Department. “Properties of these employees will get targeted with every possible means. These traitors won’t be allowed to sleep as the sword of resistance fighters will be always hanging not only on their heads but also on their near and dear ones”, it added. “Resistance fighters have already been given go-ahead for eliminating these traitors”. It alleged that the current land eviction drive was only to make “ways for illegal settlements to be prepared”.

Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have started the drive of retrieving the illegally occupied State and Kahcharai lands, estimated to be over 5 lakh hectares (20,000 Kanals) as per a Circular issued by the UT’s Revenue Department on 9 January 2023. It set the deadline of 31 January 2023 but the drive is continuing as not more than 10 percent of the identified lands have been retrieved.

While thousands of Kanals of such illegally possessed lands are claimed to have been retrieved, authorities have also demolished some non-residential structures of some influential persons including some retired and serving civil and Police officers, a number of politicians including former Ministers (including a senior BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister) and MLAs and powerful businesspersons.

In Jammu, hundreds of the residents of Malik Market and adjoining areas gathered and they obstructed the demolition of MG Hector showroom in the capital city on Saturday. Four bulldozers were damaged in the stone pelting that left some Police personnel injured. Authorities have withdrawn from the sensitive neighbourhood and paused the drive but filed a case of attempt to murder and attack on public servants. At least six of the accused have been arrested while eight more are still under sustained interrogation.

The eviction drive in Kashmir came days after the authorities sealed and seized the properties of a number of separatists, militants and their “over-ground workers” and also demolished the residential houses of some militants. Those targeted by the authorities in South Kashmir include the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant, Ashiq Nengroo, who is believed to be in Pakistan but wanted in the Pulwama terror attack of 14 February 2019 in which 40 CRPF men were killed.

At Liwar, Pahalgam, in Anantnag district, authorities have demolished a one-storey building of Aamir Khan, the former “Chief Commander Operations” of Hizbul Mujahideen who has been in Pakistan since 1999. Residents however insist that Khan’s two sons have been working as suppliers and contractors with the security forces since long.

Over 23,000 hectares of state and Kachara’ land is claimed to have been retrieved during the current anti-encroachment drive in Jammu and Kashmir. The major chunk of 13,793 hectares of land was retrieved from encroachers in Rajouri, followed by over 6,100 hectares in Poonch, over 2,300 in Kishtwar, 15.9 hectares in Udhampur and some parcels in Kathua and Samba districts.