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Political parties slam govt order on land encroachment

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Jammu/Srinagar: Political leaders cutting across party lines on Monday hit out at the recent direction by authorities in Jammu and Kashmir to remove encroachment from government land as parties took out peaceful marches in various parts of the Union territory.

In a circular issued on January 09, Commissioner Secretary of the Revenue Department, Vijay Kumar Bidhuri, directed all deputy commissioners to ensure 100 percent removal of encroachments from state land, including Roshni and Kahcharai, by the end of January.

“Who stops u from going after the rich powerful elite. The elites till now r getting away with mere threatenings. The humbler structures of the poor r abodes borne out of necessities. These structures house families, aspirations, dreams, ambitions, emotions, memories,” Peoples Conference president Sajad Gani Lone said in a tweet.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti claimed the government was keeping people in Jammu and Kashmir busy with issues of their survival so that they cannot fight the onslaught on their identity.

“Laws are created for the welfare of the public, but in J&K they are weaponised to disempower, humiliate & punish. This latest diktat was issued because despite GOI misusing all the agencies at its disposal & unleashing draconian laws, aren’t getting the desired results,” she said in a series of tweets.

“The collective punishment and humiliation is this government’s way of keeping people of J&K on tenterhooks & fighting for mere survival so that they don’t have the energy to fight the onslaught against their identity,” she added.

Activists of the Democratic Azad Party (DAP), Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held separate protests here on the issue.

Activists of DAP led by its vice-chairman G M Saroori took out a peaceful march from Panama Chowk to the office of Divisional Commissioner, Jammu against the “process of evicting people from the lands which have been under their possession for generations”.

They also submitted a memorandum to the divisional commissioner, seeking immediate revocation of the order.

DAP chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad had recently termed the order as “unfortunate” and said he had provided land under the Roshni scheme as chief minister to the poor, needy and landless for building houses and cultivation, but now the prevailing regime is snatching it back, that too, in harsh weather conditions.

He had said the people of Jammu and Kashmir were the first beneficiaries of its resources.

Dozens of Congress workers led by senior leader Shahnawaz Choudhary staged a similar protest outside the Press Club against the government order.

The Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants) Act was enacted in 2001 with the twin objective of generating resources for financing power projects and conferment of proprietary rights to occupants of state land.

The Act, popularly known as Roshni scheme, initially envisaged conferment of proprietary rights of around 20.55 lakh Kanals (1,02,750 hectares) to the occupants of which only 15.85 per cent land was approved for vesting of ownership rights. The scheme was finally repealed by the then governor Satya Pal Malik on November 28, 2018.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court had on October 09, 2020 declared the Act “illegal, unconstitutional and unsustainable”, and ordered a CBI probe into the allotment of land under this law.

CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami also voiced his deep concern over the government’s move of divesting people of the land registered under various titles in revenue records and demanded immediate withdrawal of the order.

Calling the move “administration-sponsored land grab”, he appealed to all shades of public opinion to unitedly raise the voice against such steps of the administration.

He alleged that the administration is “totally blind towards the destruction of the livelihood of the rural poor”.

The CPI(M) leader said that it is unfortunate that the government has mobilised all its machinery to “dispossess the poor and excluded of the land registered as Kahchairi, Shamilat and so on”.

“The people who are living off this land have found themselves in a bind after the government’s recent order,” Tarigami said.

In the name of retrieving the “state land”, the government is making desperate attempts to pauperise the people by snatching their land and creating private land banks, he alleged.

“The move is not only bound to render thousands of people without a roof on their heads, but also divest many of cultivation rights,” he said.

The government, he alleged, is trying to divert attention from pressing issues like unemployment.

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