Anti-encroachment drive: Omar says bulldozer should be last resort

Srinagar, Feb 6 (IANS): Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti on Monday launched a frontal attack on the Union Territory administration's anti-encroachment drive, with the National Conference leader saying that people should be allowed to prove their claim while the PDP leader said use of bulldozers has made Kashmir worse than Afghanistan.

At a press conference on Monday, Abdullah said the government should allow people to prove their claim on the lands they occupy and make the use of bulldozers its last resort.

The National Conference vice-president asserted that his party was not against those who have grabbed state land, but some proper procedure should be followed.

"In Jammu and Kashmir, there is chaos everywhere. Bulldozers are being sent everywhere to demolish houses, complexes and buildings. But nobody knows what is the procedure.

"My sister approached the high court with regard to the proposed demolition of the Gupkar house of Omar and was told by the government that the lists making rounds in the media are forged.

"No government is supposed to bring trouble for the people. Bulldozers should be the last resort. The government must issue proper notice to those who have grabbed state land and give them at least six weeks time to prove their claim on land under them and show the documents.

"In our case, my sister produced the documents before the high court that states that the lease of Gupkar house is still active and has some years to expire. Likewise, people should be given time to present the documents and let the revenue team verify the same. If after proper verification, land under anybody is found in illegitimate possession, then a bulldozer can be used.

"The government should also make public a genuine list of people who have occupied state land. It seems that the ongoing drive is aimed at creating a wedge between communities. This drive lacks proper procedures.

"Officials accompanying bulldozers at Nedous, told my relatives that they had pressure from the top and had to do something to show their bosses," he said.

Omar alleged in many areas the ongoing demolition-cum-eviction drive is becoming a hub of corruption.

"I got many calls from several areas with people saying that they are being told to pay Rs 1 or 1.5 lakh to get their names removed from the list," he said.

He said that National Conference MPs will try to raise the issue in the Parliament if they are given time to speak.

Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti told a separate media conference on Monday that the use of bulldozers has made Kashmir worse than Afghanistan.

She alleged that the anti-encroachment drive launched is being used as a weapon to suppress the people.

She said they are not against the government's move to retrieve the land from land grabbers but the livelihood of people should not be affected.

Mehbooba also alleged that the drive is aimed at taking the shelters away from the people and the situation in Kashmir has turned worse than Afghanistan.

She also alleged that the government is trying to divert attention from the main issue of restoration of statehood, Article 370 and other things.



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Title: Anti-encroachment drive: Omar says bulldozer should be last resort

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