Political parties denounce govt move
Jammu: Hundreds of people on Wednesday held a protest against the demolition drive by the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) here with PDP President Mehbooba Mufti questioning the selective demolition of houses of tribal communities and asked the residents to stand up against such atrocities .
The JDA on Tuesday retrieved prime land worth crores of rupees from encroachers during an anti-encroachment drive with the assistance of police and district administration in the Roopnagar area on the outskirts of the city, rendering many families homeless.
According to the JDA officials, the encroached land in the posh area measuring over five acres was retrieved during the five-hour-long drive which saw some 17 structures including houses and cowshed raised to the ground.
The affected families, mostly belonging to Gujjars and Bukerwals, are on the roads against the drive, claiming that they were in possession of the land for over eight decades and were rendered homeless by the government in winter without serving any notice.
“We were taken by surprise when a strong contingent of police and other government officials came and demolished our houses. We have been living here for the last over 80 years,” a woman, whose house was demolished, said.
The officials said the JDA has already sold many plots of the land but were not able to give possession to the legal owners owing to the encroachment and legal battle. Since the court had vacated the stay sometime back, the JDA took the action to retrieve the land, they added.
Many social and political activists joined the protesters on Wednesday and blocked the main road, officials said, adding police personnel have been deployed in strength to maintain law and order.
Former chief minister Mehbooba, reacted sharply to the demolition drive.
“J&K admin’s selective demolition of houses in Jammu & rendering tribals homeless is yet another method to vent their hatred by targeting minorities. Seemingly these communal policy decisions are sanctioned at the top. People need to stand up against such atrocities,” she wrote on twitter in response to a video clip shared by a social media user.
Senior CPI(M) leader and former legislator M Y Tarigami said, This is how ST (scheduled tribe) and tribal communities are being treated while government claiming to be empowering them.
JK Apni party leader Rafiq Khan, who joined the protesters at Roopnagar, said the party has decided to wait for two days for Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to intervene against the selective approach and ensure rehabilitation of the affected families.
“If nothing is done, we will launch an agitation in and outside Jammu and Kashmir,” he threatened.
Jammu West Assembly Movement President Sunil Dimple also addressed the protesters and extended his support.
“It is not about any particular community as we are all living together for centuries in harmony and peace. Jammu and Kashmir is in danger as the government is dislodging the real citizens and inviting outsiders to change the demography of the region,” Dimple said.
He alleged that the BJP is selling the land of Jammu to real estate investors of the country and Kashmir to business tycoons of Dubai.
“Our own people are being rendered homeless and forced to live under open sky in severe cold without food. We will not allow this to happen and will stand up against this injustice,” he said.
Later, the protesters moved towards the demolition site and staged a peaceful sit-in there.
Former Minister and Senior Vice President Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference Abdul Gani Vakil lambasted the LG administration for targetting sub-minorities in Jammu and Kashmir.
In a statement issued here today Vakil said on one side the government is claiming to empower the schedule tribes and Schedule castes through different electoral process and programs but on the other side continues to witch hunt them on different pretexts.
“The demolition drive against Gujjars and Bakerwal’s in Jammu is a reflection of sustained targeting of minorities under this dispensation”, he added.
He asserted that the current administration is adding to the miseries rather addressing them.
“Instead of winning over hearts of people by addressing there miseries, this government is doing everything possible to further alienate them. Vakil stressed on the Govt to stop witch hunting Gujjars & Bakerwals and allow them to live in dignity,” he said. PTI