Omar Abdullah - Mehbooba Mufti - Sajjad Gani Lone - G A Mir - Opposition Leaders

SRINAGAR — National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah, JKPC chief Sajjad Lone and former J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President Ghulam Ahmad Mir on Thursday asked the government to come clean on the issue of “Home to Homeless”.

Omar Abdullah said that before providing land to the homeless, the Jammu and Kashmir Government should clarify which people it is counting as homeless. “Are those who arrived in J&K just a week ago also counted as homeless? I believe those who arrived in Kashmir after 2019 should not be included in the scheme. We are aware that the government has brought in a large number of outsiders to J&K since August 2019,” he said responding to a question by media on the sidelines of a function in Budgam.

He said that the government should first explain what yardstick it was employing to establish homelessness.

Responding to another question on the Union government’s proposed implementation of the Uniform Civil Code, Omar Abdullah said, “The National Conference would not support any proposal that would harm the country’s minorities. As of now, there is no concrete draft of a UCC for us to respond to.”

Omar said that the government also had to understand that when the laws of the country were being made after independence, at that time Jawaharlal Nehru and his colleagues talked about a uniform civil code for the country but the Sangh Parivar opposed it because “they did not want such a law. we will wait for what will be the proposals of the government and how we will take everyone together and as far as the question of the National Conference is concerned, we will not support any draft that harms the minorities.”

J&K People’s Conference President, Sajjad Gani Lone, also strongly emphasized the need for the government to clarify the eligibility criteria for ‘Land for Landless’ scheme and restrict land allocation solely to the erstwhile state subjects of Jammu and Kashmir, without including any new domicile holders after August 5, 2019.

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In a statement released to the news agency GNS, Lone expressed concerns regarding the eligibility criteria for land allocation to the landless and homeless in J&K and urged the administration to provide a clear and unequivocal clarification on the issue.

“Now that questions are being raised, it will be prudent for the state administration to make it clear whether providing land to the landless and homeless, comprises of only the erstwhile domicile holders pre-August 5, 2019. Per se, if lists have been framed prior to 2019, as asserted by the Rural Development Department, the list will not comprise any newcomers. Clarification is a must,” he said.

Lone further asserted that it is crucial to uphold the rights of the erstwhile state subjects of Jammu and Kashmir when allocating land to the landless and homeless. “To protect the interests of the local population, the government must clearly specify that no new domicile holders after August 5, 2019, should be included in the land allocation process”, he added.

Former J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President Ghulam Ahmad Mir also asked the government to come clean on the issue of homes to homeless families and apprise people as to who is homeless and how they have been categorized.

The move is being considered another assault on J&K after downgrading it into two UTs. People are feeling threatened and apprehensive about their future given the misadventure and unexpected decisions of the BJP government from time to time.

Commenting on the new policy of home to homeless families in Jammu and Kashmir, Mir said the government should act in a responsible manner and explain as to who are the homeless families and how they have been categorized. “The aspirations of the people must be taken into consideration before moving ahead on this count,” Mir said.

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“We believe this policy has made people more restless because they are feeling that the move is another assault on J&K, which should not happen, so government must act in a responsible manner and avoid any further confrontation in J&K,” Mir said, adding, “There will be no compromises on rights, urges and aspirations of people in J&K, who are the victim of BJP’s vindictive policies.”

Meanwhile, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) while taking note of the “prompt” clarification by the government on the press conference about housing for the poor held by its president Mehbooba Mufti expresses dismay at the lingering lack of transparency in the process.

According to a party spokesperson, the main question of a sharp jump in the numbers of homeless ‘people’ from 1947 to 2021 to nearly two lahks ‘households’ remains unaddressed. PMAY has been in operation for decades in the state under different titles and a procedure has been in place which always was monitored by GoI itself from identification to execution levels.

The assistance would be given generally to the poorest landholders and in the case of people without land, there was a process in place to allot them land out of the community lands like Kahcharai, state land, Khalisa etc.

“The claim that two lakh identified households still remain homeless raises doubts about the sharp increase. Either the exercise is flawed or the intentions are suspect,” he said in a statement.

The spokesman said the latest announcement made at the highest level comes close on the heels of the allotment of tenements to non-local workers in Jammu. “Does any state in the country reciprocate this for thousands of workers, hawkers, and small vendors who move to the plains during winter?”

“It is, therefore, necessary for the government to come out with a detailed clarification on the process of identification of beneficiaries,” the statement added.

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