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Uttar Pradesh: Yogi Adityanath government cracks down on land mafia

Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath (Reuters)

In a major move to free state-owned land from illegal occupants, the Yogi Adityanath government has approved the setting up of an anti-land mafia task force. The state cabinet, in its fourth meeting here on Tuesday, also decided to constitute a four-level task force to take stringent action against land grabbers. These task forces would be formed at the state-level, division-level, district-level and tehsil-level.

Apart from this, the cabinet also decided that all encroached lands would be identified within two months by the district-level task force. In order to rein in the land mafia, the district-level task force has also been mandated to prepare a list of all land grabbers in the state.

Briefing newspersons on the cabinet decision, UP energy minister Shrikant Sharma said no grabbing of public land will be allowed in the name of religion.

“Within two months, all such lands which have been encroached upon will be identified and anyone can lodge a complaint at the police station regarding land grabbing. In fact, the state government has also decided to develop a portal for lodging complaints to put an end to land grabbing,” he said.

“The chief minister has given a clear directive to start a campaign for vacating properties which have been under illegal occupation after identifying them in two month’s time,” he said.

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The chief minister, during the presentation of the finance department a few days ago, had asked the officials concerned to set up the task force at the earliest to free government land from illegal occupants and encroachers and had also ordered department-wise identification of properties under illegal occupation and make them useful for people on a priority basis.

The seriousness of the problem of illegal occupation on government land was highlighted in June last year when two police officers and 22 squatters were killed in a bloody conflict at Jawahar Bagh public park in Mathura.

The squatters, an armed group led by Ram Vriksh Yadav, once a follower of Jai Gurudev, had been occupying the site since 2014.

Following a court order on their eviction in 2016, the police tried to forcibly evict them, triggering violence that claimed the lives of two senior police officers, including a superintendent of police. The police then returned fire, killing several squatters.

Apart from this, the cabinet also decided to scrap 15 holidays in government offices and schools that have been announced earlier on either the birth anniversaries or martyrdom of great men.