Their homes for decades now on ‘enemy property’

  • | Thursday | 21st September, 2023

Ghaziabad: Its original owner left long ago. But since his departure, the 1,061 acres of land at Sikri Khurd in Modinagar have become home to thousands who built 27,000 small houses and settled down in these dense colonies over the years.Then, in April 2022 came a survey by the Ghaziabad administration that tracked down the lands ownership to Allaudin, who had crossed over to Pakistan after the Partition in 1947 and made the country his home. The government subsequently declared this tract of land enemy property, which means it would be taken over by the Union home ministrys Custodian of Enemy Property for India department.But the families living there will have none of it. They have been opposing the move tooth and nail, asking why they had not been heard during the survey.Enemy property is land owned by people who later took Pakistani or Chinese citizenship after the Partition or wars with India. The Enemy Property Act, 1968, allows the central government to take over this land.Babli Nagar, who owns a house in Sikri Khurd and is spearheading the residents protest, on Monday alleged that the Zamindari Abolition Act was overlooked in the survey. The land parcels have been sold several times over the decades. After the Zamindari Abolition Act came into force, there was a provision in the law that the then custodian of land would be allowed to retain the land after paying ten times the revenue. The original custodian of land or property exists in the revenue record and yet the district administration, while conducting a survey, overlooked it and unilaterally declared it as enemy property, Nagar said.Kalu, another resident and protester, said they had approached the Allahabad high court, which ordered a fresh survey by the district late last year.The Allahabad HC, while delivering its verdict on December 6, 2022, on our plea, directed the district administration to serve individual notices to residents while conducting inquiry before declaring enemy property, he said.Nagar added that the government declaration had spelt doom for the residents who have been protesting the decision for a year. We will not allow our home and hearth to be snatched away. This declaration is downright illegal, Nagar said. Asked about the opposition, district magistrate RK Singh said the Union home ministry had ordered the survey of enemy properties to monetise the land. In keeping with the direction, a survey was carried out in Ghaziabad and the report submitted on April 12, 2022, in which 1,061 acres of land in Sikri Khurd was identified as enemy property, the DM said.But, he admitted, that the survey is being carried out afresh on the high courts direction.As per the principle of natural justice, the court has asked us to carry out a fresh survey of enemy properties in Sikri Khurd after a dialogue with the stakeholders, Singh said.According to government data, around 12,000 properties have been identified as enemy properties across the country. More than half of these – 6,255 – are in UP.

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