Srinagar: The Kashmir Centre for Social and Developmental Studies (KCSDS) on Friday reacted sharply to the state government’s move to provide shelter for homeless non-state subjects in Jammu and Kupwara districts under National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) for the year 2015-2016.
The KCSDS has come across a copy of the revised minutes of the project sanctioning committee constituted for finalization of shelter for urban homeless in the two districts.
According to the minutes dated 8 January 2016, the commissioner housing and urban development pressed for the construction of similar facilities in other districts like Srinagar, Samba, Budgam, Reasi and Kathua in the near future.
The KCSDS in a statement said that the minutes “were very confusing and deceitful”.
“In one sentence it states that this component will focus on providing shelter to people who are living either on roadside or under flyovers or in the homes of their relatives. In another sentence it states the occupants will not be necessarily state subjects and that the facility so created shall be transitory,” the statement said.
“It is a common knowledge that there are no homeless persons in our state. Even the poorest have a shelter in Kashmir. To that extent the attempt is to transplant a city like Delhi in Kupwara to begin with,” the statement said.
The civil society group observed that the issue of homeless persons was a feature of industrialized cities rather than broadly agricultural societies like in Kashmir.
“Viewed this way, the project is yet another attempt to drill a hole in the state subject law of the state under the garb of so-called humanitarian concern. In reality, it is part of the state machinations to settle outsiders in the state of J&K to change its demographics,” the KCSDS statement added.
The civil society group said the NULM project does not apply to JK because the situation of homeless people does not exist here.
“Secondly, the state cannot provide this facility to outsiders precisely because state subject law does not permit it. The project is, therefore, a masquerade for diluting the state subject law by settling outside labour force, stray visitors and others in the state. The minutes are full of prevarications to deceive Kashmiris into believing that it is purely a harmless humanitarian project meant to serve ‘imaginary homeless citizens of the state’ but actually meant to stab them in the back,” the think-tank observed.
The group mentioned that the state subject law was brought in by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927 in response to the demand of Kashmiri Pandits who feared outsiders would outnumber them.
The group demanded from the state government the immediate withdrawal of the plan, which it observed, has been “brought by the bureaucracy in league with the swindling government”. Else, the group warned, there would be “fierce public agitation”.
Those who attended the meeting include Shakeel Qalandar, Zahid Gulam Mohammad, Zareef Ahmad Zareef, Javaid Iqbal, Abdul Majid Zargar and Quratul Ain besides others.