Press Trust of india

Left, farmer groups protest in Delhi against eviction drive in J&K

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New Delhi:  Farmer groups and Left leaders from Jammu and Kashmir protested at the Jantar Mantar here on Friday, demanding the withdrawal of the land eviction order 2020 under which the Union Territory administration has launched a drive to retrieve state land from encroachers.

At a protest organised by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and Jammu and Kashmir Kisan Tehreek (JKKT), the groups also demanded the withdrawal of changes in land laws, and said the evictions should be stopped.

Speaking at the protest, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said while a petition on abrogation of Article 370 and 35A is still pending with the Supreme Court, laws are being changed in the Union Territory.

“Laws are being changed in Jammu and Kashmir, and common, working class people, especially farmers, are getting affected. The change in law which allows outsiders to buy land in J&K is not right,” Yechury said.

“In 1927, Maharaja Hari Singh enacted a law barring outsiders from buying land in J&K. This law is not exclusive for Jammu and Kashmir, many states have similar laws,” he said. “This is a conspiracy to sell agricultural land to corporates”.

The CPI-M leader also questioned why elections were not being held in the Union Territory, even though the delimitation exercise is over.

“People of J&K have no representatives, they cannot raise this issue with anyone. It’s been five years, and they’ve not held elections yet,” he said.

CPI-M leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami said no consultations were held with local bodies before carrying out the evictions.

He said evictions should be stopped immediately, and also slammed the administration over recently introduced property tax.

“They’re not some land mafia, if a small farmer is cultivating common land, or has made a small house, they should not be evicted,” he said.

Tarigami too questioned why elections were not being held in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Development at the cost of evicting peasants is not acceptable,” he added.

The Roshni Act was enacted in 2001 by the National Conference government and repealed in November 2018 by the then J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik.

Officially known as Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants) Act, 2001, the law granted ownership of Jammu and Kashmir state lands to unauthorised occupants of those lands.

On October 09, 2020, the high court of J&K and Ladakh had declared the Act illegal, unconstitutional and unsustainable, and ordered a CBI probe.

Later, the government decided to retrieve such land and evictions were carried out.

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