Zainakote residents, industrialists resent transfer of HMT land to forces

Zainakote residents, industrialists resent transfer of HMT land to forces
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‘Defeats industrialization, invites trouble’

Kaiser Majeed

Srinagar: The transfer of erstwhile HMT land to J&K Police and SSB has brewed up resentment amongst residents and local industrialists in Zainakote.
The land was recently retrieved by the state government from the possession of union Ministry of Heavy Industries.
Out of the retrieved land, however, 246 kanals have been transferred to J&K Police for setting up a housing colony and 80 Kanals have been provided to SSB for raising sector headquarters.
Moreover, a large portion part of the industrial land is already under occupation of Central Reserved Police Force.
Local residents say that the government’s decision of transferring the land to forces would result in more violence and bloodshed in the area.
They said that they had staged protests and requested authorities for removal of CRPF camp as they face harassment at the hands of forces.
“This land was given by us to set up industries that would generate employment for our youth. We didn’t give it for camps” a group of residents said.
A shopkeeper in the vicinity said that the area would remain peaceful until 2010. After CPRF camp was installed on the industrial land, protests started and it took a heavy toll on their business, he said.
“Their presence is a problem. From the day they occupied this land, we started witnessing stone pelting,” he said alleging that after every incident of stone pelting, forces damage property and shopkeepers have to shut down their shops.
“Last time they pelted stones on window panes and barged into a local mosque,” he said.
There are also apprehensions among locals that the government intends to establish a cantonment on the land, with shopkeepers and industrialists fearing that it may result in closure of the market and industrial units.
Nazir Ahmed Dar, father of Gowhar Ahmed Dar – a youth who was killed by government forces near the CRPF camp in November 2015-, said that they had formed a committee to fight for removal of the camp.
“Setting up industries on the land would create livelihood opportunities and installing more camps on the land will invite trouble,” Dar said.
President, Industrial Association Zainakote Nazir Hussain said the establishment of camps is aimed to disempower industrial units in the valley. “The government wants to transfer economic power from Srinagar to Jammu,” he said adding the industrial units have scope to provide livelihood to tens of thousands of people “but it seems they don’t want it to happen”.
“We have 120 working industrial units right now providing livelihood to nearly ten thousand people directly or indirectly,” he said. “The land should be used for industrial purpose only and then we can flourish and provide livelihood to our youth.”
Another local industrialist said that the Kashmir valley has world’s biggest reserve of limestone but India still imports 2700 metric tonnes per day.
Industrialists added that the presence of forces in the area has forced the women who worked in these industrial units to quit their jobs.