Mehbooba Mufti
Mehbooba Mufti

SRINAGAR — Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President and former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said that the use of bulldozers has made Kashmir worse than Afghanistan.

Addressing a news conference in New Delhi, Mehbooba, as per the news agency KNO, said the anti-encroachment drive launched in Jammu & Kashmir 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 get affected.

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

While responding to a query, she said that the elections cannot be a solution to the Kashmir issue. She said that the government is trying to divert attention from the main issue of Statehood, restoration of Article 370 and other things. “We want a complete solution to the Kashmir issue,” she said.

Make bulldozer last resort; give people chance to prove their claim: Omar Abdullah

Stating that the ongoing demolition drive going on across J&K has triggered a wave of frustration and chaos among people, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah on Monday advocated that the government should make the bulldozer its last resort, give people a chance to prove their claim and issue proper notices to the people having illegal possession of State land. He was quick to add that the National Conference was not against those who have grabbed State land but “a proper procedure should be followed.”

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“In J&K, there is chaos everywhere. Bulldozers are being sent everywhere to demolish houses, complexes and buildings. But nobody knows what is the procedure and on what basis this demolition drive is being conducted,” said Omar while addressing a press conference in Srinagar, as per the news agency KNO.

He said his sister approached the High Court with regard to the proposed demolition of the Gupkar house of Omar and was told by the government before the Court that the list making rounds in the media is “forged.” “Given the government response in the court, I urge the government to make the genuine list of people who have grabbed State land public,” he said.

Omar suggested a slew of measures to the government with regard to the demolition drive. “No government is supposed to bring trouble for the people. Bulldozers should be the last resort. The Government must issue proper notices to those who, according to it, have grabbed State land and given them at least six weeks’ time to prove their claim on land under them and show the documents,” he said.

“In our case, my sister produced the documents before the HC that states that the lease of the 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 under illegitimate possession, then a bulldozer can be used for sure,” he said.

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Omar said that the government should also make a public “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 procedure,” he said.

He said in the case of the demolition of NC leader Ali Muhammad Sagar, he found that no notice was served. “There is a procedure that if the person doesn’t receive the notice, the same is fixed on the front portion of the gate. Nowhere is this being done,” he said, adding, “Officials accompanying bulldozer at Nedous told my relatives that they had pressure from the top and have to do something to show their bosses.”

Omar said 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 NC MPs will try to raise the issue in the Parliament if they are given time to speak.

To a query that why NC would approach the court on the issue, Omar said that he has suggested some measures to the government and that if the J&K administration fails to give a positive response, they would surely consult lawyers and discuss the future course.

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