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‘Selective targeting’ of tribals pits PDP against BJP

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Jammu, Mar 08: The “selective targeting” of tribal population residing in the forest areas of Jammu province at the behest of Forest Minister has pitted coalition partners BJP and PDP against each-other.

In was in light of this selective targeting of a particular segment of population that the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s has reportedly directed the police to not provide protection to anti-encroachment drives against tribals.

However, undeterred by this, State’s Forest minister Choudhary Lal Singh, once again took ruse of the  court when he said today that the directions of J&K High Court would be followed to vacate encroached forest land.

Earlier, triggering a major political controversy, Mufti directed police and district administrations to not provide protection to anti-encroachment drives by government departments against tribals (Gujjars and Bakerwals) thereby putting to halt drives in Jammu city being carried out against them.

However, the Forest Minister soon called a high-level meeting of officers and issued them directives in this regard.

The minister directed Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs) to prepare lists of officials or private persons involved in encroaching forest land and submit a report within a week for further action under the Forest Act.

Singh said the Forest department has rich resources and these have to be safeguarded.

He said the government has set up a demarcation committee for checking the activities of encroachers.

Significantly, Mufti heads a PDP-BJP coalition in the state. While the Chief Minister leads PDP, Singh belongs to the BJP.

The Chief Minister had directed the officers that till a formal Tribal Policy is formulated, the tribal population shall not be disturbed without the approval obtained from Tribal Affairs department, according to a functionary.

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