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‘Court orders not enforced to conduct Gram Sabha on grazing rights in Budgam villages’

The court’s decision underscores the Gram Sabha’s authority under the Forest Rights Act.
07:42 AM Jul 09, 2024 IST | GK NEWS SERVICE
‘court orders not enforced to conduct gram sabha on grazing rights in budgam villages’
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Budgam, July 8: Even after the court had directed for holding Gram Sabha to decide grazing rights under Forest Rights Act within 30 days from the pronouncement of order by Sub Judge Court Chadoora several months back, the authorities are yet to conduct this village assembly in Branwar and its adjoining village panchayats.

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The Court of Sub Judge Chadoora had pronounced the order on 28 February and by March end the Gram Sabha had to be concluded, but local residents allege that it has been delayed at the behest of some influential people who have taken control of the huge pastureland in Chaskani Naad meadows in Doodh Ganga forest range of Budgam.

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The Court of Sub Judge Chadoora, Budgam, had instructed the Gram Sabha of the panchayat halqas Branwar, Neegu, and Jabbad to determine the allocation of grazing rights to the local community, as required by the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and in line with the principles of equitable distribution of natural resources, reads the order dated 28 February.

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The  court had pronounced the order in the case of Ghulam Mohammad Jahara & others V/S Ghulam Qadir Thekray, residents of Branwar, Chadoora Budgam. While Jahara and his associates assert ownership of the Chaskani Nad meadow, spanning over more than 5000 kanals in the Doodh Ganga forest range of the Pir Panjal forest division, Thekray alleges coercive takeover by Jahara’s family and wants equal distribution of this pastureland among the residents of Branwar , Neegu and Jabbab panchayat halqas.

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The directive, issued by Sub Judge Chadoora (Civil Judge Senior Division) Mir Wajahat, mandates the Gram Sabha to assess the rights and preferences of both parties within 30 days of the order’s issuance to ensure fair distribution of resources.

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The court’s decision underscores the Gram Sabha’s authority under the Forest Rights Act. Pertinently the Chairman DDC Budgam, Nazir Ahmad Khan, had last year written to LG Manoj Sinha about this and he too had requested for holding of the  joint Gram Sabha.

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“We fail to understand why the Gram Sabha/ Deh Majlis isn’t being held in our village in spite of court orders issued 4 months back. Very recently on June 28th 2024 the Chief Planning Officer Budgam asked the BDO Surasyar Chadoora not to hold Gram Sabha after some locals who head the local Forest Rights Committee-FRC had submitted a written representation before DC Budgam. It is important to note that members or Chairpersons of village Forest Rights Committee are also elected  by Gram Sabha and they are subservient to it. The Gram Sabha can change members and chairpersons of FRC’s and they are worried for this as well,” said Advocate Nazir Ahmad a legal expert.

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“A govt officer cannot become an impediment in a democratic process like Gram Sabha. This is an insult to Panchayati Raj and we will write to PM Modi who keeps speaking about it and Govt of India hails its efforts of making 3 tier Panchayati Raj system operational in J&K,” said Abdul Rashid Gorsi a local resident.

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