‘Demolition drive going on across J&K has triggered a wave of frustration and chaos among people’: Omar Abdullah

Srinagar, Feb 06: 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 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.”

“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. 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 are “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 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.”

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 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 this is 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 whey 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 positive response, they would surely consult lawyers and discuss the future course.

Omar said there is an imbalance in this anti-encroachment drive considering which areas are targeted in Jammu reflecting their calculated design to disturb brotherhood here,

“Bulldozers cannot be the first response of any govt…on what basis is chief secretary sahib sending these bulldozers when their lawyer in the court says lists circulating are fake. Let there be transparency. Chief Secy should make list public.. Law doesn’t distinguish between poor and rich…with these kinds of statements (that poor would be spared) intentions of govt are exposed. Let them release a list formally”.

He said there were some people who were always enemies of the policy of land to tiller reforms (by late Sheikh Abdullah).

“…This (anti-encroachment drive) could be a step in that direction,” Omar said.

Major decisions like (anti-encroachment) should be kept for “elected govt here…but this admin won’t understand that and we want to give some immediate relief to people,”.

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