A 55-year-old former Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel allegedly died by suicide on Tuesday, a day after revenue officials and policemen went to demolish his home at Chak Avtara village in Bishnah tehsil to clear the way for the Ring Road project around Jammu city.
Earlier, Harbans Lal’s 22-year-old son Rahul had hanged himself to death in protest against award of meagre compensation to acquire their land, alleged family members. Thereafter, Lal resigned as sub-inspector in the SSB about 18 months back, they added.
Survived by his wife Kamlesh, 50, and son Sahil Kumar, 25, Lal built the single-storey, three-room house on about 10 marla land — about 2,722 sq feet — bought from a relative for Rs 80,000 nearly two decades ago. The family belongs to the SC community.
The Sub Divisional Magistrate, Jammu (South), had issued a notice dated July 13 to Lal, directing him to “vacate/remove the structure within 5 days so that work of construction of Ring Road may be done smoothly…”
Pointing out compensation “has also been transferred in your bank account on account of your structure coming under the alignment of Ring Road on July 22, 2019’’, the notice warned him “directions may be issued for eviction of the said structure…”
In a reply on July 18, Lal sought time as he was not well and did not have any other house to live in.
Two days later, local tehsildar Sohan Lal Rana, a demolition team and a police contingent visited Lal’s home and started the demolition. As Lal and his family protested and local residents gathered, the tehsildar and others left the place after demolishing the boundary wall and asked Lal to visit his office the next day.
According to relatives, Lal was not well the next day and his wife and son visited the tehsildar, but could not meet him. On reaching home, they found Lal hanging from the ceiling.
While Tehsildar Rana said Lal was under depression, SDM Srikant Balasaheb Suse said it would wrong to connect the suicide with the Ring Road project. Lal was served a notice in July last year as well and a compensation of Rs 9.31 lakh was deposited in his account the same month, the SDM said.
Lal’s son Sahil, however, said the revenue officials deposited Rs 7 lakh into his father’s account without his consent. They had taken his bank details from somewhere else, he alleged.
While officials said the rate of compensation was finalised on the basis of circle rates of land fixed by the erstwhile J&K government under the Land Acquisition Act, residents of Chak Avtara village said it was far less than the market rates. Former BJP minister Sukhnandan Choudhary said he has submitted a representation to Home Minister Amit Shah for a review of compensation award for families affected by the Ring Road project.
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