JDA’s demolition drive triggers protest in Jammu

Mehbooba, Tarigami, Hakeem Yaseen, Apni Party, PC criticise Govt for ‘targetting’ Gujjar, Bakerwal communities
JDA’s demolition drive triggers protest in Jammu
Representational Pic

Jammu, Jan 12: Hundreds of people Wednesday protested against the demolition drive of the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) in Roop Nagar.

The protesters were joined by the leaders of various political parties, former legislators, Gujjar leaders, social activists, and people from different sections of the society.

One of the protesters said that if 17 illegal colonies could be regularised why the poor population was being targeted.

The protesters were reacting to the JDA's anti-encroachment drive in which several concrete residential houses and shelters were dismantled in Roop Nagar on January 11, 2022.

The protesters blocked the main road and burnt tyres in the middle of the road as a mark of protest against the JDA.

The protesters demanded action against the JDA officials while shouting slogans against the alleged selective approach.

They said that the people were targeted even after assurance that the Gujjars and Bakkerwals would be provided support by the government.

The peaceful demonstration continued for hours.

The protesters were shouting slogans against the demolition by the authorities while comparing it with other localities which were not touched by the JDA or other government authorities despite being illegal.

The protesting nomads claimed that they lived there for the past 120 years and their ancestors cultivated this land when no one was around.

“Instead of settling us on the land which belongs to our ancestors, the JDA acted partially and demolished the structures which could have been regularised,” said one of the protesters.

However, the incident has united the Gujjar leaders of all political parties.

They condemned the incident and sought an impartial probe into the incident so that the erring officials in JDA could be held responsible for the act.

An elderly woman was seen roaming around her completely dismantled house, shouting and cursing those involved in her displacement, and praying helplessly.

“This land was tilled by my ancestors. They lived here for centuries. This land belongs to us. What is our fault?” the elderly woman shouted as she and her family became homeless following Tuesday’s demolition drive in Roop Nagar.

The incident has attracted a strong reaction from all sections of society.

The political parties have called on Lt Governor Manoj Sinha to hold a probe to resettle the displaced nomads.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti questioned the selective demolition of houses of tribal communities and asked the residents to stand up against such atrocities.

“J&K administration’s selective demolition of houses in Jammu and rendering tribal community homeless is yet another method to vent their hatred by targetting minorities. Seemingly these communal policy decisions are sanctioned at the top. People need to stand up against such atrocities,” Mufti tweeted.

Senior CPI (M) leader Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami said, “This is how ST and tribal communities are being treated while the government claims to be empowering them.”

Apni Party leader Rafiq Khan, who joined the protesters at Roop Nagar, said that his party had decided to wait for two days for LG 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 J&K,” he said.

Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) Chairman Hakeem Yaseen expressed anguish over the demolition drive against the selected houses of Gujjar and Bakerwal community by the JDA.

A statement of PDF issued here quoted Yaseen as urging the government to desist from dismantling houses of Gujjar and Bakerwal community adding that such ill-conceived and anti-people decisions would have serious repercussions.

Peoples Conference (PC) senior Vice President Abdul Gani Vakil criticised the government for targetting sub-minorities in Jammu and Kashmir.

A statement of PC issued here quoted Vakil as saying that on one hand, the government was claiming to empower the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes through different electoral processes and programmes, on the other hand, it continued to witch hunt them on different pretexts.

He stressed on the government to stop witch-hunting Gujjars and Bakerwals and allow them to live in dignity.

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. J&K 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 BJP was selling the land of Jammu to real estate investors of the country and Kashmir to business tycoons of Dubai.

“Our people are being rendered homeless and forced to live under the open sky in the severe cold without food. We will not allow this to happen and will stand up against this injustice,” he said.

Greater Kashmir
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