The Public Relation Officer of Jammu and Kashmir’s Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu on Friday assaulted a forest official and threatened him of dire consequences when the officer along with his staff was removing encroachment from the forest land at Sangarwani Nichendajan at Rajpora in Pulwama district.
Mohammad Kabir along with his staff was removing encroachment of forests near Sangarwani when PRO, Junaid Rashid who is also the constituency in-charge of the Finance Minister along with dozens of villagers of Nichendajan village appeared on the spot. The PRO slapped the officer and threatened him of dire consequences if he doesn’t stop his work. “He asked me to stop work, but when I refused, he slapped and assaulted me. He also abused the Forest Minister and all the forest officials for trying to retrieve government land,” Kabir said adding that PRO is a powerful man with strong political backing and that he will use every influence to harm him and his staffers.
Kabir said that he has already brought this into the notice of his higher officials. “I am sure, action will be taken against the PRO, otherwise nobody from the forest department will try to retrieve forest land from the encroachers.”
Minister of State for Forest, Abdul Majeed Padder told The Indian Express that officials have not brought this incident to his notice. “I will get it investigated and will definitely take action against the guilty PRO.”
“The mob also stole more than 100 iron posts that were being used to demarcate the forest land. We have already started investigation and after inquiry a case will be registered against culprits,” said Feroz Ahmad, Divisional Forest Officer, Shopian. Ahmad said that his men have already retrieved 300 kanals of forest land from the villagers.
The PRO, however, denied that he or villagers assaulted any staff member of forest department. “They (forest officials) were demarcating the land when I politely asked them to stop work. I told them that I have already taken up this issue with Deputy Commissioner Pulwama and Divisional Forest Officer and they should remove encroachment only after compensation will be given to villagers. But the forest officer refused. The officer is now trying to defame me as he is National Conference worker,” he said.