THE Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday asked senior revenue and police officials to file by May 30 their report regarding compliance of its earlier direction to strictly implement restrictions imposed by state government on construction activity near Army’s ammunition depot in Nagrota.
This followed a petition by the Army seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Mamta Singh, wife of former Deputy CM and now Jammu & Kashmir Assembly Speaker Nirmal Singh, for allegedly violating the court’s order dated May 7 last wherein it had directed authorities to ensure implementation of the August 2015 notification of Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, banning construction near the depot.
The petition also seeks initiation of contempt proceedings against Revenue Commissioner Shahid Anayat Ullah; Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Hemant Sharma; Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Kumar Rajeev Ranjan; Senior Superintendent of Police Vivek Gupta and Station House Officer of Nagrota Police Station. In the petition, the Army submitted that construction work had been going on at the disputed site despite court’s instructions.
As The Indian Express first reported, Singh’s wife and Deputy CM Kavinder Gupta own land next to the Army depot. Singh received a strong letter from the Army Commander of the 16 Corps telling him to halt construction on the plot since it was illegal and a security risk to the depot and to the personnel who lived there.
He had also pointed out that “it was in violation of the Works of Defence Act (WoDA) 1903, and the Government of India, Ministry of Defence notification dated September 26, 2002’’ which bans construction activity within 1000 yards from the ammunition depot. Singh’s house falls nearly 580 yards from the boundary of the depot.
The 16 Corps commander wrote the letter to Singh after Army’s efforts to get the construction stopped by civil and police authorities did not yield results. However, as construction work continued even thereafter, the Army took up the matter with the Ministry of Defence and approached the court.
Nirmal Singh calls the controversy “politically motivated,” but chief BJP spokesman in the state Sunil Sethi admitted that “it (the issue) has potential to damage the image.and dent the stated position of the party.”
Asking its senior leader to resolve the issue by “rectifying” himself, Sethi said: “Normally, the party is not concerned about personal issues. The present issue also pertains to Dr Nirmal Singh and he should have resolved it…the party is taking serious note of the issues.It will be appropriately reported to the leadership.”
The opposition National Conference has criticised the BJP. “Dear@BJP4India the Indian Army is moving court against the J&K Speaker’s (until recently Deputy CM) wife & yet we hear nothing from you about these anti-national people who are a threat to national security. May I ask why?’’ tweeted former J&K CM Omar Abdullah.