Anantnag: Former Chief Minister and President of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said that the government was pushing the “peaceful” Gujjar, Bakerwal community in Kashmir to take extreme steps by snatching the roof over their heads.
“The community has always remained peaceful and loyal. They have never participated in any violence. But the present government is snatching their homes and driving them away from the lands of their forefathers. In such a scenario, I fear, they won’t be left with any other option and might take extreme steps,” Mufti told reporters in Pahalgam area of Anantnag.
She was in Pahalgam to meet the Gujjar and Bakerwal families whose houses were demolished by the administration recently citing a “court order” to retrieve illegally occupied forest land.
Mufti said that this was happening in Jammu as well as in Kashmir that the people who have been the protectors of these forests are being shown as the illegal occupants.
“But we want to make it clear that the consequences of such witch hunts can be dangerous in the coming times. They (Gujjar, Bakerwals) are a brave community, don’t push them,” she said.
The PDP chief maintained that when she was the Chief Minister she had ordered that these people should not be targeted in any way.
“I came to know that their houses are being demolished and in this cruel, cold weather they have been left homeless. I couldn’t help myself but visit these people. I might not have the powers I had when I was the CM but Allah has given me enough to power to speak for the voiceless,” Mufti said.
According to her, Muslim population in Jammu as well as Kashmir were being targeted to clear the land for “whoever they want to bring here post the cancellation of the domicile necessity to own land here,”
“Where will these poor people go in this cold? Do these people (the authorities) have no fear of Allah?” Mufti asked.
The demolition drive was carried out by the Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA), Wildlife department alongside the Revenue department and police.
“As many as 13 structures were demolished during the drive,” a source in the district administration told Kashmir Reader, “The structures were demolished in Movoora, Rangwaad, Maamal, Khelan and main market of Pahalgam,”
Some families, as per sources, were displaced due to the demolition drive carried out by the administration. The PDA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mushtaq Ahmad Simnani, however maintained that no one has been displaced.
“No one was living in the structures we have demolished. These were pure illegal encroachments by residents of Pahalgam who have concrete houses in the town, and construct these huts in the forest land to occupy it,” Simnani said.
He added that land encroachment was a serious issue in Pahalgam and has to be dealt with, “Otherwise there will be no Pahalgam in the next ten years,” he added.