The Delhi high court has directed the Jammu & Kashmir government to ensure protection of lands abandoned in Verinag, Kashmir, by five Kashmiri pandits, who left the valley in 1989 due to unrest.
Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw directed the Jammu & Kashmir government to have the properties of the five migrants, who are now scattered across the country, inspected by the Deputy Commissioner of Anantnag, Kashmir every six months.
The court also directed Central government “to use its good offices to ensure compliance of the aforesaid directions by the Government of State of Jammu & Kashmir”.
Advocate BL Wali, one of the petitioners, told HT that the order of the high court will be helpful to other Kashmiri pundits, whose properties in the valley have been encroached upon.
Out of the five petitioners, Wali and two others are currently living in Delhi, while one of the remaining two are living in Panipat and the other in Jammu. All of them are senior citizens.
Wali said all their moveable properties lying in their residential houses in Verinag were looted by local miscreants and then gutted into fire. This made our return back to valley all the difficult, Wali said.
Wali said the Jammu & Kashmir state administration showed its “callousness and helplessness to protect the premises/land left, despite the existence of the state law to that effect”.
He said that at one point in time their properties were being used for parking of some vehicles and as a transport yard. However, there is no encroachment now, he said.
Ordinarily petition seeking relief with respect to immovable property is filed in the High Court having territorial jurisdiction over the area.
However, Justice Endlaw made an exception “…in view of the same very reasons for which the petitioners have been forced to leave their immovable properties in Kashmir and take refuge in Delhi…”
The judge also noted that their petition was pending in the high court for the last 11 years and under interim orders passed in 2005, their properties have been ordered to be protected.