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Protests in J&K as government ‘retrieves’ state land from ‘encroachers’

NewsProtests in J&K as government ‘retrieves’ state land from ‘encroachers’

SRINAGAR: Even as thousands of people have been protesting in the Jammu region, authorities in every district of UT of Jammu and Kashmir continued their anti-encroachment drive on State land and community land. A senior officer monitoring the situation told media on Friday that over Rs 700 crore worth property has been retrieved so far and would be put in public use.
News agencies and news reports have said from Jammu that thousands of people took to streets in Sunjwan, Bathindi and Narwal Bypass areas of Jammu and were carrying tri-colour flags in their hands and shouting against the authorities for making them homeless by the latest drive started by the Revenue Department.
UT Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta said that encroached State land was being retrieved from big vested interests and would be given back to the public so that they use it for their own purposes. He said that it is for the benefit of common people and assured them that during this drive, poor and marginal people would not be touched. Earlier, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has also assured former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad that there would be a formal order by the UT Administration by which poor and marginal people would be spared from this drive.
The statement released by DAP said that Azad sought intervention of Shah against the ongoing land eviction drive in Jammu and Kashmir, where aggrieved people continued their protests at different places.
Azad apprised the Union Home Minister about “serious unrest and uncertainty” prevailing among the public at large in Jammu and Kashmir due to the eviction drive launched by the administration to remove encroachments on state land, including Roshni and Kahcharai.
As the civil society, along with Traders’ Associations, have been protesting against the anti-encroachment drive in Jammu and Kashmir, in a press conference, KCCI President Sheikh Ashiq told media that there is a need to set accountability in the ongoing anti-encroachment drive and a formal order should be issued by the J&K administration so that common people come out of the present uncertainty.
In Jammu. there have been dozens of protests in different areas against the eviction drive started by the government to retrieve state land from “encroachers”. Most of the political parties and former chief ministers have appealed to the government to spare the poor people from this drive, even as Ghulam Nabi Azad, former chief minister and chairman of DAP met Union Home Minister Amit Shah, requesting him for a proper government order so that poor are spared from the eviction drive which have been started in entire UT of Jammu and Kashmir. Azad met Amit Shah amid growing protests in Jammu region, especially in his home area in Chenab valley which includes Doda, Badherwah, Kishtiwar etc.
Small protests are being witnessed in Kashmir valley while the government machinery along with the help of police and security forces are removing the “illegal encroachments” on state land and they have retrieved land from former chief ministers, ministers, law makers, influential businessmen and former police officers.
Many close relatives of politicians have also faced anti encroachment drive in Srinagar and other areas as the government has decided to retrieve state and community lands spread over 50 lac hectares and have given the deadline of 31 January 2023 to all Deputy Commissioners to submit their compliance reports.
In the Jammu region, even BJP leaders and former ministers were forced to leave the land by anti-encroachment squads. Among those from whom land was retrieved include Kavinder Gupta, former deputy chief minister of J&K and Abdul Gani Kohli, another BJP leader and former minister.
In Srinagar city, 40 kanals of prime state land was retrieved from a close relative of Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah. Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Aijaz Asad told media that these 40 kanals retrieved are worth Rs 160 crore. Similarly, on the outskirts of Srinagar at Zakura, 36 kanals, worth Rs 50 crore, was retrieved from a former senior bureaucrat and his brother who are relatives of a former chief minister.
Amid the growing protests former chief minister and PDP President Mehbooa Mufti has appealed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to launch a united fight against what she describes as “BJP government’s persecution to uproot people from their homes”.
“This is a new weapon being used by the BJP government, like they have the UAPA, PSA, NIA, ED and other agencies, to persecute the people of Jammu and Kashmir and uproot them from their homes”, news agencies quoted her saying.
“First they created a wedge between Hindus and Muslims, then between Gujjars and Bakerwals and Shias and Sunnis. Now, they are creating a wedge between the rich and the poor by saying they are going against the rich, while the truth is that the houses of poor people are being demolished”, news agencies quoted her saying.
“She said that Raj Bhavan and the Badami Bagh Cantonment area in Srinagar were built on state land and should be vacated first”, news agencies quoted her saying. “Where is the Governor House and the BB Cantonment? If they are saying they are starting (the drive) against influential people, then start it from the Governor House and the BB Cantonment. Why are they not doing that?” she questioned.
She leveled charges of corruption also against the bureaucracy operating in Jammu and Kashmir while going for an anti- encroachment drive. She said, “I want to tell you with great responsibility that this is part of corruption. They want to take money from the rich and votes from the poor. They want to make the poor helpless so that they are called to the BJP office and asked to support the party. The rich are told to meet a specific official,” a news agency quoted her as saying.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha earned a lot of appreciation among the shopkeepers in Lal Chowk, Srinagar, as their shops were locked by the authorities for being illegal. He reiterated that common people and the poor people would not be touched during this drive and no influential person would be spared.

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