- Nearly 40 graves displaced
- Work halted after objection by local Muslims
In a shocking development, as many as 40 graves were turned up after the local administration ran bulldozers over a 200-year-old graveyard in Samba district to develop a playfield at the site.
“They uprooted trees and then one by one human skeletons came out from the graves. They knew it is a graveyard, but the work was not stopped till local Gujjars rushed there and raised objection,” said a resident of Keso Manhasan in Ramgarh tehsil of Samba district.
The locals alleged that Block Development Officer (BDO) Ramgarh, Anshuman Sharma ordered construction of a playground on the graveyard without identifying the nature of land from the revenue records or Aquaf Islamia which had notified the land in 1985. They also alleged that the BDO worked on the directions of a BJP cabinet minister.
“The ruling BJP leader excavated the graveyard for recreational facilities even as entire area knows that the land belongs to Muslim community and it’s a 200-years-old graveyard which was still being used. It is a deliberate ploy. Earlier also such attempts have been made to convert Aquaf Islamia land at many places,” claimed an elderly nomad who lives in Rakh Brotian.
As many as 40 graves were displaced and the skeletons were lying scattered on ground. The issue was brought into the notice of the district administration, police and Aquaf Islamia following which they rushed to the spot and stopped the work. On directions from the administration, police also registered an open FIR but no one has been named in the case.
“Total graveyard land is 60 kanals. However, out of 60 kanals, 40 kanals has been encroached by locals and the existing graveyard is confined to only 40 kanals where the BDO Ramgarh was constructing playground,” said the officials in Aquaf Islamia.
They told Kashmir Post that Gujjars of Rakh Brotian use this graveyard to bury their deceased family members and the land was still being used by local Muslims.
Surprisingly, Aquaf Islamia has not constructed boundary wall around the graveyard.
Meanwhile, talking to Kashmir Post, SDM Ravinder Sharma said, “Deputy Commissioner, Samba has sought explanation from BDO Ramgarh over the issue. The BDO should have identified nature of land from the revenue department which was not done. FIR has been lodged and investigation has been taken up.”
When contacted, BDO Ramgarh, Anshuman Sharma told Kashmir Post that the local Gram Sabha had moved resolution for construction of playground and then the estimates of the work under MG NREGA were taken up.
“The plan was approved by Assistant Commissioner Development (ACD) Samba and it was technically checked following which the work was started by the local people namely Narinder Sharma alias Gogi, a senior BJP leader,” said BDO Ramgarh.
He said two locals were assigned work on the resolution of Gram Sabha on December 24, 2016. When asked why he did not check status of the land, the BDO said he trusted locals who wanted a playground at the site.
According to sources, on April 20, 1985, 80 kanals of graveyard land was notified by Aquaf Islamia.