The Jammu and Kashmir administration's anti-encroachment drive intensified on Saturday as the land illegally occupied by 'influential persons' was retrieved at many places in the Valley, officials said.
Various political parties have demanded that the poor be spared in the drive.
On Friday, Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha assured that 'only influential and powerful people who misused their position and violated the law to encroach upon the state land' would face action.
Encroachments were removed on Saturday from many places in Srinagar including at Humhama, Peerbagh, Padshahibagh, Nishat and Chattabal, the officials said.
At Humhama, State land was freed from the occupation of former director (information) Farooq Renzu Shah.
The outer wall of a house belonging to Shah was demolished and about one kanal of state land was retrieved from his possession, the officials said.
Shah said the ancestral property belongs to his family and was not registered in his name.
"I support the rule of law, but, the government should implement the rule of law without fearing the influential people, and not target only one or two of them," he said.
In other such action in Srinagar, the authorities demolished the outer wall and gate of the residential house belonging to advocate Shabnum Lone, who is the sister of Peoples Conference president Sajad Lone.
The outer wall of Shabnum Lone's residence in the KralSangri Nishat area of on the city outskirts was demolished by a team of the Revenue Department, Srinagar, to reclaim state/Kacharai land under Khasra no 3557 from her occupation, the officials said.
In Chattabal area of Srinagar, the authorities sealed a shopping complex claiming it was built on State land.
However, advocate Shoaib Zahoor, owners of the property, said the particular chunk of land was allotted to them by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) through an open auction in 2004.
"I was the highest bidder and deposited Rs 42,50,000 and on that basis, I was allotted this land in 2007. The J-K High Court gave me possession completely in 2012 after some unscrupulous persons alongwith the Revenue Department wanted to take this land.
"We are not encroachers, we have due regard for the law. In 2018, the High Court upheld the allotment as legal and valid. On that basis, I got the commercial building permission from the competent authority (SMC) in 2019," Zahoor said.
He said they were not served any notice for the sealing of the building.
He appealed the LG administration to look into the issue.
The eviction drive was also carried out in the Anantnag district of south Kashmir.
"The district administration of Anantnag conducted massive anti-encroachment operations against various stone crushers operating from State/Kahcharai lands," an official said.
A total of 50 kanals of land was retrieved which lies at a short distance from NH44 Srinagar-Jammu National Highway -- and is valued in excess of Rs 20 crore.
The officials said the crushers have been given a week to remove the machinery from the spot failing which the machinery will also be seized.
Demolition drives were also undertaken in Bumthan Mirbazar where another stone crusher was operating on state land. A total of 14 kanals of land were retrieved by the revenue team from Tehsil Qazigund, they said.
The officials said such drives, especially against influential persons, will continue.
Democratic Azad Party (DAP) chief Ghulam Nabi Azad, meanwhile, demanded a formal order from the Raj Bhavan to spare the poor in the ongoing anti-encroachment drive.
His party members took out a protest march from the party office at Sonwar and blocked the main road near Sonwar Chowk.
The Resistance Front (TRF), a shadow outfit of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), made an attempt to wade into the controversy, a move described by police as an attempt to misinform the general public.
'Harassing and dismantling properties of local Kashmiris in the name of 'New Colonial Land Laws', is just paving ways for illegal settlements. The hidden agendas behind these draconian diktats is to pave ways for non-locals not only to take local business, but also clear ways for settling these non-locals of particular mentality in Kashmir,' the outfit said in a press release.