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J&K: Political Leadership Call out BJP for 'Arbitrary' use of Bulldozers

Anees Zargar |
Kashmir looks like Afghanistan due to bulldozers roaming all around, said PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti said.

Srinagar: The political leadership in Jammu and Kashmir have raised serious concerns over the demolition exercise that they claimed was being carried out through “arbitrary” use of bulldozers to “invent homelessness” in the region.

In a press conference in Srinagar, Omar Abdullah, vice president of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, accused the government, including top administrative officials of carrying out the ongoing eviction drive in haste. He said the use of bulldozers should be the last resort for the government to retrieve land under illegal occupancy.

“Bulldozer should not be the first step it should be the last resort. There is no basis on which these demolition drives are being carried. People should be given an opportunity to prove their claims. The authorities should verify whether there is a legitimate occupancy or not,” the former chief minister said.

Abdullah said the people are anxious and no one knows the reality in the wake of extensive lists of alleged encroachers that have since been termed as “fake”.

“We seem to be establishing a lawless society. Everyone is being threatened that if someone questions then the bulldozers will go after them. At several places, it has become a means for corruption,” Omar alleged as he urged the authorities to stop the process that has led to “fear and intimidation”.

Abdullah’s press conference was followed by People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, who also lashed out at the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government for excessive force against the people of Jammu and Kashmir. She said that the region has been turned into another Afghanistan.

“They have weaponised the majority in Parliament. Kashmir looks like Afghanistan due to the bulldozers roaming all around,” Mufti said.

Mufti alleged that for the ruling party, the UT of J&K does not mean much but has been often used to further their alleged agenda of communal hatred.

Condemning the action of the LG led administration in the region, which has led to fear of losing homes and livelihood across the UT, Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone said that the administration was attempting to “invent homelessness” and that a particular community is being targeted of forced evictions.

“Across India, the law of the land is that there should be a notice served first. Here no one has received notices. The objective of the government is not to retrieve the land but to humiliate people,” Lone said.

Lone, who said that he has never felt so helpless, added that he does not hope to see India be represented through bulldozers in Kashmir but through “love and affection”.

Lone said that the party leaders may have to consider going for a hunger strike in Delhi in case all options are exhausted in coming days.

The Lt. Governor-led administration has been carrying out an eviction drive across Jammu and Kashmir in what they claim is a drive against “illegal encroachment” by big land sharks. Even as LG Manoj Sinha said that only rich or influential people will be affected and poor be excluded to safeguard their interests, on ground, many of those impacted by the drive have been poor families.

Like Lone, Abdullah also believed that there seems to be an imbalance in those affected due to the drive. “If you look at in what areas bulldozers are demolishing homes, it seems that it is being done with a calculated design to target communal harmony,” Abdullah said.  

Abdullah also said that the ruling dispensation has always been against the Land to Tiller (reforms) in the wake of which Article 370 was also abrogated. The introduction of new land laws, he added, was also aimed to weaken the land to tiller reforms.

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