Press Trust of india

Mehbooba visits protesting families affected by JDA’s demolition drive in Jammu

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Jammu: PDP president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday visited the protesting families affected by an anti-encroachment drive here and urged the administration to return their land which was in their possession over the past seven decades.

She alleged that the Lt Governor administration wants to bring in real estate investors from outside after taking away land from the poor to build apartments.

“This government has no human face and the fact of the matter is that both the BJP-led central government and the Lt Governor administration in J-K is deaf, dumb and blind,” Mehbooa told reporters after interacting with the protesting families in Roop Nagar area on the outskirts of Jammu.

Last week, the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) retrieved prime land worth crores of rupees from alleged encroachers during an anti-encroachment drive with the assistance of police and district administration in the area, rendering many families homeless.

According to the JDA officials, the encroached land in the posh area measuring over five acres was retrieved during the five-hour-long drive which saw some 17 structures including houses and cowshed raised to the ground.

The affected families, mostly Gujjars and Bukerwals, are on the streets against the drive, claiming that they were in possession of the land for over eight decades and were rendered homeless by the administration in winter without serving any notice.

“Every government is meant to serve the public but this government is anti-poor. They want to bring in real estate investors from outside after taking away land from the poor public to build apartments. We want Lt Governor (Manoj Sinha) to look into the plight of these hapless people and return their land to them,” Mehbooba said.

Earlier interacting with the affected families, who are protesting against the demolition of their homes and their eviction, inside a tent near the site, Mehbooba said she will do whatever possible to ensure that justice is done with them.

She said she was informed that nobody from the administration visited the families to take note of their plight in the aftermath of the demolition drive which has rendered them homeless amid the chilly weather and coronavirus pandemic.

The PDP president said her party will raise the issue forcefully and will tell the administration that it will be responsible if anyone among the affected families, especially the elderly or minors, dies of cold.

She denounced the “selective demolition” and said big bungalows have come up on the JDA land. “But since they are rich people they were left untouched.”

“Even one of their leaders (former deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh of BJP) was served a demolition notice by the JDA for illegal construction near a defence installation but no action was taken till date,” the PDP leader said.

She urged the protesting families to remain steadfast in their struggle like the farmers who agitated for nearly a year against three agri laws, saying her party will remain behind them to ensure their early rehabilitation.

She was accompanied by Zuhaib Yousuf Mir, a Kashmir based business man, who recently joined PDP.

While addressing the gathering, Mir said that party founder late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had a dream for the development of tribal communities.

He said that following Mufti Sayeed’s dream, Mehbooba Mufti, when she was Chief Minister, introduced tribal policy.

“So you have to understand that PDP is with you and for you,” he told the gathering.

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