SRINAGAR: After a lull in protests for several years, Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing protests against the recent government order issued by Commissioner Secretary Revenue, setting the deadline of 31 January to all the Deputy Commissioners “to remove encroachments from State land”, grazing land, (Kahcharai) and the land that was distributed by the previous governments under Roshni Scheme to the landless people. Most of such land was distributed under the Roshni Scheme by the previous governments in the Jammu region. Sensing trouble on the ground with growing protests, especially in the Jammu region, LG Manoj Sinha has assured poor people and those marginal farmers who were given state land for making shelters or for the purpose of cultivation, would not be touched. He said that the latest drive started by his administration is against those people who have used political influence to grab prized state land and they would be evicted on the directions of J&K High Court.
Reacting to the recent government order, there have been protests both by the farmers and political parties in the Jammu region, appealing to the government to roll back the order as it will adversely impact the lives of people in thousands, especially in the Jammu region.
National Conference, PDP, Congress and the recently formed DAP by former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad held protests in Jammu and asked the government not to disempower and punish poor people without any fault. Most political parties have asked the LG administration not to evict people from state land as it will snowball into a crisis. Many of them have accused the LG administration “weaponising laws” and snatching “the livelihood of people”.
Reacting to the latest order by the J&K administration, former Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti took to twitter and said, “Laws are created for the welfare of public, but in J&K they are weaponised to disempower, humiliate and punish. This latest diktat was issued because despite GOI misusing all the agencies at its disposal and unleashing draconian laws, aren’t getting the desired results.” While the protests are growing in the Jammu region, in Kashmir valley, only the political leaders are protesting while the people are only waiting and watching. “We are afraid of protests as police can book us and send us to jail,” said a villager of Khimber on the outskirts of Srinagar, adding that if the protests increase in Jammu, they will also try to protest in Kashmir. The Revenue Department in its directive has not only asked the Deputy Commissioners in the entire Jammu and Kashmir to ensure complete removal of encroachments from the state land, but they have been asked to file compliance reports by 31 January. While the Deputy Commissioners have instructed evicting people from those patches of land which were distributed under Roshni Scheme, in many of such cases, review petitions are pending before the court as two years back, the J&K High Court has struck down the scheme and have described it as illegal.
In the past few days, political protests increased in the Jammu region as parties like PDP, DAP by Ghulam Nabi Azad held protests in the district headquarters of Jammu, asking the government to halt evictions from state land.