Budgam: The Jammu and Kashmir Forest Department chopped down hundreds of apple trees in Kanidajan and its adjacent areas in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, KNT reported, quoting residents of the area.
A few days back, Forest Department issued notices, accusing the affected orchardists of encroaching forest land, the residents including some tribals told the news agency.
“After serving the notices, the Forest Department not only chopped down hundreds of apple trees but also razed some dhokas (residential huts),” they said.
“We have been living here for centuries. Even our ancestors lived here and planted these apple trees. It was heart-wrenching to see these trees falling,” said a local of Kanidajan.
Another local Gujjar accepted that they are living in forest land but added that they are living here for centuries and never were they touched or harassed.
A Forest Department official said that the eviction notice to the ‘encroachers’ was sent a month ago. “We will retrieve forest land everywhere,” he said but did not give a satisfying reply about the cutting of hundreds of apple trees. (KNT)
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