The Roshni Act was brought in by the then chief minister Farooq Abdullah in 2001. Under the Act, the state allowed the regularisation of land — by paying market price — which was illegally held or encroached by people.
The J&K administration alleges that Farooq and Omar Abdullah's residence in Jammu has been built on illegally occupied land.
J&K land scam: Former Chief Ministers Farooq and Omar Abdullah have been named as illegal encroachers of land under (unconstitutional) Roshni Act of Jammu and Kashmir. Farooq Abdullah’s sister Suraiya Matto has also been named by the state administration as an illegal beneficiary of what is now being called as one of the biggest land scams in Jammu and Kashmir.
The J&K administration alleges that Farooq and Omar Abdullah’s residence in Jammu has been built on illegally occupied land. Not only this, Abdullah-led National Conference’s offices in Jammu and Srinagar and a trust once owned by the Congress have also been constructed on illegally encroached land. A probe by the state administration reveals that Farooq Abdullah had in 1998 bought three kanals from different land owners but instead of taking possession of just purchased land, he occupied over seven kanals of nearby state and forest land.
The market value of the encroached land is around Rs 10 crore going by prevalent land valuation, The Indian Express reports citing a J&K official. The IE reports that Abdullahs are part of a list of encroached land other than Roshni, where the land is “physically encroached but not shown in revenue records”.
The National Conference has denied the allegations saying, the reports attributed to sources that Dr Farooq Abdullah is a beneficiary of the Roshni Act is completely false and is being spread with malicious intent. “Dr Farooq Abdullah has not availed of the Roshni scheme for either his residence in Srinagar or in Jammu and anyone who says otherwise is lying,” it said.
On Tuesday, the BJP slammed Abdullahs for illegally occupying prime lands in Jammu and Kashmir. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that it was very unfortunate that key leaders of Jammu and Kashmir including Farooq Abdullah used their influence and power for land grabbing and appropriated government land.
In a series of tweets, Prasad said that In 1998, Farooq Abdullah had purchased 3 kanals of land but he encroached upon 7 kanals of land which was double the size of the purchase which was a forest and a state land. “Under the Roshni scam, name of Farooq Abdullah’s sister Suraiya Mattu has also appeared who is also a beneficiary of 3 kanal land. There was a conscious land loot by powerful people of J&K who were getting benefits under the Roshni Act which was declared unconstitutional by J&K High Court,” he said.
The Roshni Act was brought in by the then chief minister Farooq Abdullah in 2001. Under the Act, the state allowed the regularisation of land — by paying market price — which was illegally held or encroached by people. The argument was that by this way, the state would collect Rs 25,000 crore as fee that would be spent on power infrastructure in the state, thus the name – Roshni Act. The cut-off date was set 1990 which was later extended to 2005, which was again extended to 2007 by then chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
During these times, people kept encroaching lands hoping further extension of cut-off date. However, the CAG flagged irregularities in the scheme and found that the state had got only Rs 76 crore from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013. In 2018, then Governor Satya Pal Malik repealed the law and ordered an investigation by the CBI. In October 2020, the J&K High Court termed the law ‘unconstitutional’ and allotment made under it as null and void.