Ganderbal, Mar 5: The death of a young man in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district has raised serious questions over the functioning of certain government departments that keep a check on the ‘illegal’ constructions.
Pertinently, the young man Amir Hamid Shah son of Nazir Ahmad Shah of Haran Ganderbal died today in the hospital after setting himself on fire during a demolition drive in the Gundrehmani area of Ganderbal district on 22 February last month.
The demolition drive had been carried out by Irrigation and Flood Control Department over the banks of Nalla Sindh and it was alleged that the said young man had constructed a complex illegally.
As the dead body of the young man arrived in the native village, the relatives and other villagers demanded action against the officials of the Irrigation and Flood Control Department.
“Let us assume the structure raised at Gundrehmani was illegal but why the officials were in slumber and didn’t stop the construction on day one. Why the officials first give free hand to alleged encroachers and then suddenly lead a demolition drive when the structure is complete,” they questioned.
An elderly person told news agency Kashmir News Trust that 70% of structures raised on the banks of Nallah Sindh and around are illegal. “The Department doesn’t touch influential and target the vulnerable only.”
Another man alleged that its corruption everywhere. “You grease the palm of concerned employees, you will be given free hand but once you stop the practice, you will see a demolition squad in the premises.”
“It took over five months to raise the structure in question. The simple question is why the concerned department was silent for five months and appeared on the scene when the structure was complete,” he said.
This ‘wait and watch and then threaten to act’ is a documented formula being adopted by some officials at the helm of affairs everywhere when it comes to allowing and then dismantling illegal structures.
“Let us believe the structure was illegal. Why the family of the deceased was not informed and why it was allowed to spend a hefty amount to carry on the construction work. What kind of regulation it is? These government employees are being paid and they are supposed to carry out their duties honestly. There are a number of questions that Irrigation & Flood Control Department has to answer,” the locals said.
The incident of self-immolation was captured on cell-phone and had gone viral prompting police to request people not to share or upload the sensitive video.
Divulging information about the incident, police in a statement had said that during a demolition drive undertaken by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department over the banks of Nalla Sindh, one person identified as Amir Hamid Shah son of Nazir Ahmad Shah of Haran Ganderbal suddenly appeared from behind the illegal structure and self-immolated on its roof in protest against the demolition of illegal structure raised on the banks of Nalla Sindh.
“The said person was, however, rescued by SHO Ganderbal and locals on the spot however he received burn injuries before flames were doused and were shifted to hospital.”
Police had said that a deep trench was dug by the owners of the structure to prevent any ingress into the premises which prevented a prompt rescue.
Police had added that it has rendered all help and support in the hospitalization of the victim and assured family members of the best medical treatment.
Divisional Commissioner after taking cognizance of the media reports about the incident appointed Additional District Development Commissioner Ganderbal, Khurshid Ahmed Shah as Inquiry Officer to enquire into the whole gamut of the episode and furnish his findings along with his definite comments and recommendations within a period of time.