J&K: After Army objects to construction by BJP leaders, they call it ‘harassment’

After the Army objected to top J&K BJP leaders constructing a house right next to its ammunition depot, Nirmal Singh, J&K Assembly Speaker, has accused Army of harassing residents 

NH Photo 
NH Photo

NH Web Desk

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has never hesitates to play the nationalism and Army card to justify its politics. And it has religiously attacked those demanding revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from residential areas in Jammu and Kashmir. But its state stalwarts seem to have different parameters to justify their brand of nationalism and national-security when it comes to their own commercial interests.

After the Army pointed out that State Assembly Speaker Dr Nirmal Singh’s under-construction new home near army's ammunition depot located along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Jammu in Nagrota is “illegal and poses a security risk”, the latter has accused Army of “harassing” people, saying that the Army’s charges are politically motivated.

In a letter addressed to Singh on March 19, Commander of Army’s 16 Corps, Lt General Saranjeet Singh had objected to the construction of the house adjacent to its Nagrota station. “It has implications on the security of a major ammunition storage facility as well as the safety of personnel living in close vicinity of the ammunition depot,” the letter said.

Singh, who resigned as the deputy chief minister on April 30, however, has endorsed the long-standing demand of local residents that the munition depot be shifted from the site. The Speaker said the dispute has gone to the court, which has not stayed the construction.

“I have no legal binding that I cannot do the construction. What the Army is claiming, it is their view and not binding on me. A village called Ban is adjacent to it. During militancy, the Army built a wall around it. They are saying that you can’t construct anything 1,000 m from the outer wall of the depot. My house is 530 m. The moment I started construction, there was opposition. It is politically motivated,’’ Singh was quoted by The Indian Express.

The report quoted Singh as saying that “They (Army) don’t let people construct even a toilet. People are harassed. You should speak to people there. Because it is my house, it is politically motivated. They started objecting. Why don’t they get a stay, they can’t do it.”

“The land is owned by Himgiri Infrastructure Private Limited. It is also a power company. My wife (Mamta Singh) is a director of this company. This piece of land where I am constructing the house is in her name,” report quoted Singh as having said. “Our (current) Deputy CM Kavinder Gupta, too, has land. He was a director of the (Himgiri) company. When he became Speaker, he left. But he is a shareholder currently. Jugal ji (MP Jugal Kishore) is also in Himgiri. Surinder Mahajan is our chairman.’’

“We were nine friends who had thought to start work. We got a 3 MW project in Himachal. It is 60 km from Chamba city. I became Deputy CM and Power Minister in 2015. There is no conflict of interest,’’ the report quoted Singh as having said.

The report quoted Singh as saying that they had taken the land (adjacent to the Army’s Ammunition depot in Nagrota) in 2014. Around 1,000 mts away an IIT and IIM are also coming up.

Himgiri, the company incorporated in 2000, which was used to buy the disputed land, owes ₹29.31 crore to Jammu and Kashmir Bank. And its account was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in December last year, The Indian Express reported on Monday.

The report stated that earlier on January 5, present Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta and Assembly Speaker Nirmal Singh (who was Deputy CM then), his wife Mamta Singh and BJP Lok Sabha member Jugal Kishore, along with nearly 20 shareholders, promoters, directors and guarantors, received a notice from the bank under Section 13(2) of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets & Enforcement of Security Interest Act (SARFAESI), 2002.

As reported by the National Herald on February 9, National Conference MLA and former Legislative Assembly Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone had raised the issue in Assembly, accusing Singh and Gupta of defaulting loans from Jammu and Kashmir Bank.

Interestingly, Gupta didn’t allow Lone speak much, ruling that the House didn’t have jurisdiction over J&K Bank. Both the leaders later told a local daily that it was a “non-issue.”

Reacting to the controversy, former chief minister Omar Abdullah said on Twitter, “BJP leaders' homes in Jammu are a 'security risk' according to the Army. It is well known locally that they gobbled up the land cheap and had hoped to use their influence to regularise the purchase.”

Expressing sympathy with the Speaker of Legislative Assembly, independent MLA Er Rasheed said that “the world must know if the most powerful man of Sangh Parivar (RSS) is facing harassment at the hands of Army what would be the fate of a common man in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines