Jammu: Authorities on Sunday carried out an anti-encroachment drive in different parts of Jammu, triggering protests by people who blocked the Narwal Bypass for several hours, officials said.
Dozens of structures, including buildings and shops, were demolished partially or completely near Bathindi crossing on the Narwal Bypass in the early morning drive by the revenue department amid heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces, they said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people took to streets and blocked the highway by burning tyres and staging a sit-in against the “selective drive”.
Additional Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Shyambir had a tough time in maintaining law and order and was seen persuading the protesters to lift the blockade with an assurance that the administration will look into their grievances sympathetically.
“We suspended the drive on the public demand and asked them to form a committee to raise their issues at the right forum. We are here to address their genuine issues,” he told reporters at the scene of the protest.
Asked about the demand for compensation for the damage, he said the issue of compensation will be decided during deliberations with the committee.
The police officer said the drive was carried out in accordance with the laid down rules to reclaim the state land illegally occupied by the people and there was no violation on part of the administration.
However, the protesters accused the district administration of going for selective drives to dislodge a particular community.
“They came around 4 am and started the demolition drive without any prior notice. The law is equal for everyone, but why this selective drive in our areas? Was the government sleeping when the buildings were raised?” Shabir Ahmad, one of the protesters, said.
He said properties worth crores were damaged.
“We have electricity connections and ration cards… there is no justification for the drive. It is nothing but hooliganism,” he alleged.
Several protesters also claimed to have legal documents for the land in question.
Officials said the anti-encroachment drive was also carried out in Belli Charana, Sunjwa and Sidhra bypass.
At Belli Charana, a large chunk of land under occupation of a prominent politician was retrieved and several structures demolished, they said, adding that illegal constructions were also removed in Sidhra and Sunjwa.