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J&K HC stays NBW against Armymen over land row

Last Updated: Sunday, July 19, 2009 - 15:59

New Delhi: A piece of land near the picturesque Pangong lake in Jammu and Kashmir, frequented by hundreds of foreign tourists, is at the centre of a legal battle between the police and civil administration and the Army over its ownership.
The dispute was sparked as police secured a non-bailable warrant against three Army officials including an officer of Major General rank from Chief Judicial magistrate in Leh for allegedly manhandling civilian officials, who were returning from Pangong lake after demolishing the alleged illegal structure erected by the Army in 2005.

This prompted the Army authorities to take a stay order from Jammu and Kashmir High Court besides moving an appeal for quashing of FIR.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate of Leh had issued non bailable warrants against Major General Manvendra Singh (the then Brigadier), Colonel M P Erray and Major S Dabbas earlier this year for allegedly man-handling the then Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Nyoma Ali Raza and two other officials.

The SDM, upon his return to Leh, had filed a complaint with the police which registered a case against the three officials under section 34 (common intention), 109 (punishment for abetment), 186 (obstructing a public officer from performing duty), 341 and 342 (wrongful restraint) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

Army spokesperson of Udhampur-based Northern Command D K Kachari said, "The land in question has been an operational location of the Army since 1962. There was a difference of opinion on the fencing of a certain portion of the land between the local civil administration and military authorities.

"Unfortunately, the issue could not be resolved despite efforts by the local military authorities with their civil counterparts and led to an impasse."

Col Kachari said an FIR was filed by the SDM Nyoma against the Army officers for alleged intimidation.... Writ Petition 561A Cr PC No 76/2009 and Cr MP No 158/2009 has been filed at Srinagar High Court on June 18, 2009 by the Army for quashing the FIR.

"The High Court has given a stay order against further police probe and the case is presently sub-judice," Col Kachari said in an email response to queries.

The court heard the matter on June 29 this year and stayed the arrest order.

The SDM, in his complaint, had said they had visited Pangong lake to demolish a shed erected for army officers on a land that belonged to the state tourism department. However, upon their return, the Army officials, deployed in 114 Infantry division, detained the officials for nearly 12 hours.

The SDM claimed that he was kept standing on the road along with two of his officials and the Army officials allegedly took away the debris of the demolished structure with them.

Repeated summons by the police to ensure presence of these Army officials failed to yield any results following which a non-bailable warrant was issued.

Pangong Lake is situated at a height of about 4,250 m (13,900 ft). It is 134 km long and extends from India to China. Two thirds of the length of the lake lies in China. During winter, the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water.

An Inner Line Permit is required to visit the lake as it lies on the Sino-Indian line of actual control.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, July 19, 2009 - 15:59

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