Kashmir

Encroachments: Bulldozers Continue Rolling in Kashmir and Jammu

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SRINAGAR: The demolition drive has picked its pace in Srinagar and Jammu. There were scores of spots where the revenue officials, cops and bulldozers remained active for part of the two.

For different reasons, the two spots proved to be very distinct.

Malik Market

In Jammu’s Malik Market where the MG Hactor showroom is built on a piece of state land, at least four bulldozers came and started demolishing it. They damaged the frontal facade and part of the basement as hundreds of people were watching.

All of a sudden, the people of the area got furious and they reacted. They resorted to stone pelting as a result of which the demolition squad left the machinery behind and fled. It was a brief spell, however.

The showroom owner, Ghulam Mohammad Baig, a resident of Srinagar, has said that he has purchased the land in 1990 and he has papers. One report said he is willing to offer land in exchange so that his more than Rs 2.5 crore investment survives unscathed.

The demolition came against the background of continued protests by the inhabitants of the Sunjwan and Bathindi area of Jammu where at least six residents have received notices that they have constructed their homes on state land. A protest was also reported from the Sidhra area.

Reports reaching from Jammu said that the twin localities shut down normal life for almost four days. Though the government has been conveying that the drive is against the influentials only, the residents seemingly are unwilling to believe. Those who have got notices include at least three individuals having some political connection.

In Jammu, the authorities have already retrieved land from BJPs Kavinder Gupta, DDC Chairman from Kathua, and a former minister – all from BJP, and lot many have received notices including a few from Apani Party.

Padshahi Bagh

There were very disturbing visuals coming from Padshahi Bagh where an old woman was pleading that her relative’s property may not be damaged because he is a very poor man. Some people even said the property that was damaged is owned and there are documents to prove that. Residents claimed they received no notice and the bulldozer’s arrival was a shocking surprise.

Padshahi Bagh Encrocahmnet drive
A group of women attempting to block the bulldozer from demolition the space, they call ‘home’. The area witnessed an early morning demolition drive on February 4, 2023. KL Image: Special Arrangement

Besides, there was a man – apparently, a non-native, who was crying claiming he has been living on the spot for 20 years and had never been touched. He claimed he received no notice so that he could have arranged some alternative. It was not immediately known to which place he belonged.

There was a very disturbing visual showing two small girls crying near the bulldozers in a tight embrace. It was not immediately known whether they belonged to the native or the non-native.

Other Spots

The demolitions are taking place at such a scale that is impossible to report every single act. It is happening in all the districts.

Near Srinagar’s RTO office, authorities sealed a 4-storey complex but the owner; a lawyer briefed the media and showed his ownership details and the amount that SMC has already received more than 15 years ago. He also talked about the division bench’s direction that the property should not be touched at all. Besides, he claimed he has building permission as well. Barring the construction costs, he gave details of payments worth Rs 60 lakhs that different government agencies have already received.

The bulldozers remained active in Humhama where the outer compound wall of a former DC Budgam was demolished. This is the most prized housing settlement in Srinagar, perhaps the only one that is not served by any public transport service. Today’s demolition in the area was a follow-up to an earlier operation in which a police officer’s encroachments were retrieved.

Bulldozer was also found operating in the Nishat area where a lawyer – a relative of a politician, lives and her compound wall was destroyed. Authorities later raised a board saying it is state land.

Ghulam Nabi Azad had a meeting with Home Minister, Amit Shah in which the issue was raised. A day later, LG Manoj Sinha flew to Delhi and returned to Jammu the same day. Later that evening he told a gathering that the operation of retrieving the state land will continue.

The government has earlier said that they have retrieved more than 600 thousand kanals of land that was encroached upon across Jammu and Kashmir. The operation is likely to continue and intensify in the coming days.

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( With inputs from : kashmirlife.net )

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