The newly-formed Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari in the erstwhile state has now found itself in the crosshairs of the Roshni Act investigations. The party’s spokesperson Bikram Malhotra has been mentioned in one of the two fresh lists of alleged beneficiaries — in Samba and Nazoor — published by the Union territory administration on Saturday.
In the Samba list, Bikram Malhotra and his brother Aditya Malhotra have been mentioned as alleged beneficiaries of over 17 kanals of land each in Palth village. The list mentions him merely as “Son of Ex Chairman Legislative Council” — his father Amrit Malhotra is an old-timer in the Congress and had been elected as the Chairman of the Legislative Council in 2015.
Apni Party came into being in March, 2020 with blessings from Delhi, which, after the decisions of August 5, 2019 and long-term detention of all key politicians, wanted political engagement to begin on the ground. Led by former PDP leader Altaf Bukhari with over 20 former MLAs from PDP, NC and the Congress, the party was expected to take Centre’s governance and developmental narrative for Kashmir to the people. It is also contesting the ongoing District Development Council polls in the UT.
“We had bought agricultural land from someone over 20 years ago. While most part of it was his ownership land, the revenue department had entered khasra Girdawari in his name for a portion as he was growing agriculture produce on it. As had been the usual practice at that time, we bought the entire land, including the portion for which khasra Girdawari was entered in his name by the revenue department. When government came up with a scheme for vesting ownership rights of land to its occupants subject to payment of costs, we too applied for it,” Malhotra told The Sunday Express. “It was an agricultural land and we are also using it for agricultural purposes. It was a government scheme of that time and we followed all the rules prescribed under it.”
Other key names in the new list are former MLC and PDP leader Nizamuddin Khatana and former Congress MLA Parkash Chand Sharma’s son Sanjeev. While Khatana is alleged to have encroached upon eight kanals of land in Jammu’s Sunjwan, Sharma is an alleged beneficiary of three kanals in Nandini area of Samba.
Khatana and Sharma were not available for comment.
Other alleged beneficiaries include businessman Sajjad Chaudhary, who allegedly got 20 kanals in Jammu, and Mohammed Majid, who as a government employee allegedly availed of 17 kanals under the scheme. Businessman Sudhir Khurana (25 kanals) and Sahil Mahajan (20 kanals) are also mentioned in the Samba list.
Names of retired DIG Khalid Durani, retired forest officer Sultan Ali, retired DFO Qumar Ali and Lambardar Jamat Ali have figured in the list of alleged land encroachers in Jammu.
The administration had earlier mentioned ex-PDP leader Haseeb Drabu and three of his kin as alleged beneficiaries apart from Congress treasurer KK Amla and four NC leaders. On Tuesday, it alleged that the residence of Omar and Farooq Abdullah was built on encroached forest land. It also claimed that a patch of land in had been encroached by PDP for its office. Both parties denied the charge. UT administration officials, however, say that the revenue records show otherwise.
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