Court directs Gram Sabha to decide Grazing Rights


Chairman DDC Budgam hails the order, assures its compliance

Budgam : A local court in Chadoora Budgam has directed the Gram Sabha of panchayat halqas Branwar , Neegu and Jabbad to decide about granting of grazing rights to the local population as mandated under the Forest Rights Act -FRA. The order issued by Sub Judge Chadoora (Civil Judge Senior Division) Mr Mir Wajahat has directed the Gram Sabha to consider the rights and preferences of both the parties within 30 days from date of issuance of the order so that there is equitable distribution of the resources.

The order was passed by the Court of Sub Judge Chadoora in the matter of Ghulam Mohammad Jahara V/S Ghulam Qadir Thekray, both residents of Branwar, Chadoora district Budgam.

The plaintiffs Ghulam Mohammad Jahara @ Chowdhary and others had claimed rights over Chaskani Nad meadow which is spread over an area of more than 5000 kanals located in Doodh Ganga forest range of Pir Panjaal forest division Budgam.

The other party Ghulam Qadir Thekrey (defendants) who also belong to Gujjar community allege that Ghulam Mohammad Jahara alias Chowdhary had forcibly taken control over 5000 kanals of meadows and were earning money from it as the family takes money from Bakarwals of Rajouri and Poonch for grazing their animals in summer months while as majority of the local Gujjar and other pastoralist communities were deprived of these rights.

The matter finally landed in court last year and Sub Judge Chadoora recently directed the Gram Sabha to decide the matter. Pertinently under Forest Rights Act 2006 also Gram Sabha is the supreme authority to decide upon the claims filed by local population. The Gram Sabha is the adult population of the village and 50 % quorum is necessary to decide on the Forest Rights Act (FRA) related cases.

While talking to News Agency Chairman DDC Budgam Nazir Ahmad Khan hailed the order issued by Sub Judge Chadoora and assured that a maha Gram Sabha would be held soon to decide this long pending dispute

“ The order issued by the Court of Sub Judge Chadoora on Feb 28th 2024 is in tandem with the provisions of the Forest Rights Act and District Development Council Budgam will ensure compliance of this order and within a week or so we will make sure a joint Gram Sabha is held at Branwar for three panchayats (Branwar , Neegu and Jabbad) under the guidance of District Development Council Budgam, DFO Budgam, Assistant Commissioner Panchayat , BDO Surasyar and others” said Nazir Ahmad Khan Chairman DDC Budgam.

Pertinently the Gujjar community of Branwar, Jabbad , Neegu villages in Budgam district were denied the grazing rights for their hundreds of sheep in the pasture-land of Chaskani Naad last summer. The said pastureland is located at an altitude of 4000 meters in Doodh Ganga forest range of Pir Panjal Forest Division. The villagers had been alleging that Chowdhary family from Branwar Chadoora had taken control over the hundreds of acres grassland (5000 kanal plus) in Chaskani Naad meadow for last many years and the family takes money as “ransom” from grazers especially from Bakerwal families of Rajouri and Poonch by allowing them to graze their animals in the said meadows. The matter finally landed in court which has now ordered the local Gram Sabha to decide the issue within a month’s time. The defendants have also been restrained from using the pastureland until disposal of the case.

As the matter took an ugly turn last year the Chairman DDC Budgam Nazir Ahmad Khan had to write to Lt Governor Shri Manoj Sinha regarding this issue and had ordered for holding a gram sabha to address this issue under Forest Rights Act -FRA.

“ Finally the Court of Sub Judge Chadoora has also ordered for holding of gram sabha to decide the grazing rights to sheep and cattle at Chaskani Nad meadow. This meadow belongs to the entire population but few families are illegally claiming rights over it. We hope to get the certified copy of the order in a few days. We also appeal DC Budgam, DFO Budgam and SDM Chadoora to facilitate for holding the gram sabha soon and address this issue democratically as mandated under Forest Rights Act “ said Ali Mohammad Jahara a local resident of Branwar Chadoora and an aggrieved person. (KNS)


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