Jammu & Kashmir: Roshni land scam

Over a month after the J&K HC nullified the Roshni Act of 2001, the J&K administration has begun publishing the list of beneficiaries on its website — including top politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen etc — who influenced illegal vesting of state lands to regularise the plots they had encroached upon or illegally occupied.

The first set of beneficiaries of the Rs.25,000 crore Roshni scam in Srinagar “exposed” by the J&K administration include former finance minister and ex-PDP leader Haseeb Drabu and three of his family members (each got one kanal of land), Congress leader and owner of Broadway Hotel in Srinagar K K Amla (over 11 kanal went to Amla and around one canal each to his three family members), retired IAS officer Mohd Shafi Pandit and his wife, and hotelier Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya and his son.

Given that the beneficiaries of land allocation under Roshni Act include the rich and famous of J&K, implementation of the HC order will mark arguably the biggest drive to reclaim prize public real estate from the elite. A source indicated that names of some political heavyweights may soon be uploaded as part of the list of beneficiaries.

In Jammu, the Roshni Act cases cited on the J&K administration website are that of ex-legislator Satpal Lakhotra and his three relatives, and government employees and businessmen Naru Ram, Beli Ram, Shallo Ram, Ram Dass and Ram Lal. Those who were vested ownership of encroached state land in Jammu other than under Roshni Act (physically encroached but not shown in revenue records) are National Conference leader Syed Akhoon and Haroon Choudhary and ex-minister from NC Sujjad Kichloo, J&K Bank ex-chairman M Y Khan and ex-NC leader Aslam Goni.

A 2014 CAG report found that only Rs.76 crore had been realised from transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013, as against the target of Rs.25,000 crore.

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