- Documents of Sainik Board meeting say Div Com Kashmir agreed on 173 kanals
- Demand then increased to 350 kanals, new proposal sent to Div Com and state Home Dept
- It is not specified whether proposed colony is meant solely for J&K state subjects
The government had not only planned to allow setting up the proposed Sainik Colony – meant for retired and serving army men – around Srinagar airfield, but the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir had actually “agreed” on allotment of 173 kanals (21 acres) of land identified for the colony on a payment basis.
The documents of 77th Rajya Sainik Board meeting – a copy of which is with us – chaired by Governor NN Vohra on April 16 this year at Raj Bhavan in Jammu reveal that the Secretary of the Board Brig RS Langeh said the number of soldiers who applied for the plots had increased, and thus the requirement of land for the colony had increased to 350 kanals of state land.
“…Divisional Commissioner Kashmir had agreed for allotment of 173 kanals of land on payment basis in old airfield area and accordingly the case was taken up with the state Home Department. The number of aspirants increased, requiring a total of 350 kanals of land,” the documents reveal, under the section titled “Establishment of Sainik colony at Srinagar”.
In view of the rush for plots, the documents quote Langeh as saying that a revised proposal has been forwarded to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and the Home Department (headed by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed) for the allotment of 350 kanals.
Interestingly, the documents don’t specify whether the colony is meant solely for soldiers who are J&K state subjects. In fact, Governor Vohra in his opening remarks, is quoted as saying that the “state government must take every required step to ensure welfare of all serving and retired defence personnel and their families about 7.8 lakh presently (sic)”.
During the meeting, Vohra also demanded “early action” on “handing over the possession of 173 Kanals of land already identified for the purpose (sic)” from the Divisional Commissioner and the state Home Department
On August 14, we had reported that 173 kanals (21 acres) of land have been identified for the Sainik Colony, where serving and retired army personnel will be allotted plots. So far, 26 officers, 125 Junior Commissioned Officers, and 900 others from different ranks have applied for plots in the colony, proposed to be built on state land.
The Mufti-led coalition government had dismissed the report as “baseless”. In fact, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh even denied the government had any plans to build a Sainik Colony in the Valley because such a colony already existed in the Jammu region. He even blamed “separatists” for spreading such rumours. Initially, the party spokesmen of both the coalition partners, PDP and BJP, had endorsed setting up of the colony.
The J&K High Court Bar Association and Kashmir’s pro-freedom leadership had opposed the proposed Sainik colony.
Those who attend the 77th Rajya Sainik Board meeting included Governor NN Vohra, Lt Gen DS Hooda GoC-in-C HQ northern command, Chief Secretary Iqbal Khandey, Principal Secretary to the Governor PK Tripathi, Maj Gen Biraj Guha COS HQ 16 corps, Maj Gen Anil Chouhan COS HQ 15 Corps, Brig Raj Purohit (on behalf of COS HQ 9 Corp) and secretary Rajya Sainik Board Brig (retd) RS Langeh. Also, non-official members and special invitees who were present at the meeting were Sqn Ldr RS Chib, Maj Gen GS Jamwal, Maj Gen NS Jamwal, Hony. Capt Bana Singh and Hony. Capt Mohd Hanief Bakshi, Director Resettlement Zone (north) Col Rajiv Chouhan, and representative of the Kendriya Sainik Board New Delhi Lt Col Vivek Joshi.