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Mehbooba Mufti Accuses Authorities of 'Weaponising' Anti-Encroachment Drive in J&K

Anees Zargar |
Mufti also accuses Lt Governor of attempting to uproot people from their homes.
Mehbooba Mufti | PTI

Mehbooba Mufti. Image Courtesy: PTI

Srinagar: The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday said that the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have weaponised the anti-encroachment drive the way arbitrary use of laws like the Public Safety Act (PSA) and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) (UAPA) Act were employed against the people in the region. 

“This is another weapon of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) like UAPA and PSA and how the law enforcement agencies like NIA were weaponised. They are using it to render people from both Jammu as well as Kashmir homeless,” Mufti said at the party headquarters in Srinagar. 

Mufti also accused the Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha-led administration of attempting to uproot the people from their homes. The former chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir argued that the government has failed to retrieve the land from China but is harassing the people of the Union Territory (UT).  

“China has grabbed 20,000 Kanal lands from us, why don’t they retrieve that? They should retrieve Kacharai (Grazing land) land from China first. It is people’s right to utilise Kacharai land,” she said. 

The J&K administration has launched a massive land retrieval drive across the UT since last week despite opposition from locals and political parties. The district administration in the summer capital of Srinagar yesterday launched a similar drive against what they termed as “encroachments” to retrieve the state land. The administration later claimed to have recovered as many as 494 kanals of land worth over Rs 500 crores and sealed at least two prominent hotels.

Of these, a part of the property from Nedous Hotel, the oldest hotel in the heart of Srinagar city, was also recovered. The officials said that of the 153 kanals of land owned by the hotel, 40 Kanal is designated state land. Sheikh Abdullah was married to Akbar Jehan, the granddaughter of the hotel chain’s founder Michael Adam Nedou. 

The drive intensified a day after the Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) culminated in Srinagar and was attended by regional political leaders including Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. In Anantnag, the authorities also demolished a boundary wall of the residence of former Congress minister Peerzada Mohammad Sayyed at Damhaal Khoshipora.

Mufti claimed that many of these families have been living since the Maharaja’s time, prior to 1947, as she alleged that the BJP is attempting to create a rich vs poor divide.  

“They are demolishing homes on six Marlas land whether it is Bathindi in Jammu or Kashmir and even in the border areas. They are not rich people. First, they divided Hindus and Muslims, then Gujjars and Paharis, Shias and Sunnis now they are trying the same with rich the poor,” Mufti said.

Underlying that there is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in Kashmir valley due to which people are not even able to protest, Mehbooba called for unity amongst the people from both the UT divisions.  

“Unless people from Jammu and Kashmir unite the way people from Leh and Kargil have united, we cannot fight against the catastrophe. Do not become a spectator when they come after your neighbour. Come to the fore and speak out,” she said.  

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