Hundreds of residents of Budgam villages were served notices by the local administration in December 2020 for evicting from the land they have been living for hundreds of years. Locals have been protesting against this move of the state alleging that they will be left homeless if such a step is taken. Pertinently according to the reports by different news outlets, dozens of apple trees were chopped off belonging to the villagers of Zicildara and Batwodar by the local forest department. The government of India has been changing laws in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir after its autonomy was revoked by the parliament of India in August 2019. The whole region was brought under an unprecedented lockdown, a curfew was imposed and the telecommunication and internet services were shut down, fearing possible protests by the local people. The region was divided into territories now directly being ruled by New Delhi. The new laws are being seen as a move to change the demography of the region by the critiques and analysts. After a huge pressure the local government in Kashmir has implemented Forest Rights Act and it is being assessed as who has the right to live and use forest land. Zooni Begum is one of the residents of Zicildara village of Budgam, according to whom, she has been living here her whole life, she is 108 years old.
About the author
Sajad Rasool manages Kashmir Unheard. He works as a Producer and Editor