Stop anti-encroachment drive in J&K, political parties urge govt
Photos /Javed Khan
Srinagar/New Delhi: Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday hit out at the Lieutenant Governor’s administration over the anti-encroachment drive.
The former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said he was against people encroaching upon State land, but the administration should follow the due process of law.
Peoples Conference president Sajad Lone slammed the government, alleging it was more interested in humiliating the people than retrieving land.
In Srinagar, Abdullah said the administration should halt the anti-encroachment drive and allow the people to prove their claims over the properties.
“Bulldozer cannot be the first response of a government. It’s not the government’s job to harass people. Its job is to heal the wounds,” Abdullah told reporters in Srinagar.
The former chief minister said his party was against people grabbing State land illegally. However, the administration must follow the due course of law while carrying out the eviction drive.
Abdullah said allegations have started pouring in that officials are using the demolition drive on the ground to seek illegal gratifications.
“We have reports that people whose name figures in the lists are asked to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to get their names off it. There are people who have an active lease or proprietary land but are still being subjected to demolition without paperwork,” he said.
The NC leader said the government should stop the demolition drive and publish the list of people it deems illegal encroachers.
“Make the list of encroachers public. Give them four to six weeks to substantiate their claims if they have any. Those who cannot substantiate their claims should be notified and given time to remove the encroachments on their own,” he said.
Abdullah said the government should devise a scheme to allow the regularisation of the illegal occupants like in other parts of the country, including Delhi.
“A scheme should be framed to give an option to regularise their possessions. We have seen in Delhi so many colonies were regularised. It will generate revenue for the government as well,” he added.
Lone accused the administration of “humiliating” people.
“There is not a single day when videos of poor people being targeted for demolition are not coming in while the LG is saying the poor will not be touched. Either the LG office is telling lies or the videos are fake. The question is whether they want to retrieve the land or humiliate the people. It seems that humiliation is more important,” Lone said.
Lone, a former minister in the PDP-BJP coalition government, said Jammu and Kashmir is part of India and should be treated at par with the rest of the country.
“They should follow here what they are doing elsewhere. Are they retrieving lands in the rest of the country?” he asked.
The People’s Conference president said the lieutenant governor and a few officers, who do not even belong to Jammu and Kashmir, cannot take decisions on behalf of the people of JK.
“The LG cannot take decisions on behalf of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The decisions are taken by a cabal of a few officers who are here as tourists. They will leave, and we will have to bear the aftermath,” he added.
He said governments across the globe work towards eradicating homelessness. “But here we have a new model of economics where homelessness is being invented”.
“Only poor people will be affected. I am making this prediction that the rich will hire a lawyer and get back their lands,” Lone claimed.
CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami urged the administration to stop “creating fear” among people.
The manner in which the administration was dealing with peasants, marginal farmers and small shopkeepers showed insensitivity towards the interests of the general public, he alleged.
Meanwhile, the Congress held protests against the eviction drive in Jammu, Srinagar and several other places in the union territory.
The protestors in Jammu slammed the administration over the ongoing “arbitrary eviction” drive in the Union territory, saying it was great injustice with “landless tillers, small, marginal farmers and the common people”.
In Srinagar, Congress leader Mohammad Anwar Bhat alleged the eviction drive had been launched so that the BJP-ruled Centre could give land to the Adani Group to “compensate” for its losses following the release of the Hindenburg report last month.
“We will not allow this to happen,” he said.
Mehbooba, addressing a press conference in the national capital, alleged the BJP is using its brute majority to “weaponise” everything and “bulldoze” the Constitution.
“Palestine is still better. At least people talk. Kashmir is becoming worse than Afghanistan, the way bulldozers are being used to demolish the homes of people. What is the purpose of demolishing small houses of people,” she said.
Mehbooba said that according to the government, even the centuries-old Shankaracharya Temple and cantonment built by the erstwhile Maharaja are also on encroached land.
The PDP leader said Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha might claim that the houses of the poor will not be touched during the anti-encroachment drive, but his message is not being heard on the ground as dwellings, even with tin sheds, are being demolished.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief appealed to Opposition leaders in the country not to be a mute spectator to the “atrocities being committed by the BJP”.
“Parties including the Congress, Left, DMK, TMC, Samajwadi Party and others should raise their voices and not remain silent to the atrocities (being committed) on common people in Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.
Protests in Maisuma against eviction drive
Awami Awaz Party on Monday held a protest against the eviction drive launched by the Jammu and Kashmir Administration to free the state land from illegal occupation.
Carrying placards, dozens of activists of the party assembled at the Maisuma market to register their anger against the eviction drive. The placards read “Kindly let us live peacefully” and “India is not Israel.”
Party leader Nadeem Ahmad said the LG administration should stop the demolition drive which has badly affected the poor people.
“Who were affected by the demolition drive at Mehjoor Nagar yesterday? Was there any rich and influential person? They are poor people who are living hand to mouth,” Ahmad told reporters.
He said if the government did not reconsider its eviction drive, the consequences would be very serious.
“Is Kashmir not for the people of Kashmir? You are giving land to outsiders while making Kashmiris homeless,” he added.