Formal order should be issued to spare poor from anti-encroachment drive in J&K: Ghulam Nabi Azad

Democratic Azad Party (DAP) chief Ghulam Nabi Azad Saturday demanded a formal order from the Raj Bhavan to spare the poor in the ongoing anti-encroachment drive.

He also announced his party was putting on hold its proposed UT-wide agitation against evictions as he has been given assurances the poor will not be evicted.

“I met Union Home minister Amit Shah and requested him that poor people should not be evicted from their houses, or poor shopkeepers from their shops through which they earn their livelihoods. The J&K LG has also given a statement that the poor will be spared. So, we have decided to postpone our agitation on their assurances,” Azad said, addressing his party workers at Sonwar here.

Since the eviction notice came, many political parties issued statements but none came out on the roads to protest. “I am proud of my party and my party colleagues that they protested across J&K.” Earlier in the day, his party members took out a protest march from the party office at Sonwar and blocked the main road near Sonwar Chowk. They demanded a rollback of the eviction order.

Welcoming the statement by J&K LG, Azad said it cannot be any government’s policy to make its own people homeless. “Most of these people are poor. There are 50-60 lakh households, which is half of our population. It cannot be a policy of any government to make people homeless,” the former Congress general secretary said.

He said conflicting statements by the J-K administration have created a confusion, and therefore the Raj Bhavan should issue a formal order making it clear that poor people and small shopkeepers will not be evicted.

“A written order from the Raj Bhavan should be issued which notifies how much land a person should have under his possession which can be spared. I think 99 per cent of the people will come under that ambit,” he added.

He said lakhs of kanals of land are illegally occupied in cities like Mumbai and Delhi, and the government provides them electricity, water, roads, schools, hospitals. Whichever party is in power be it Congress, or the BJP or the AAP, their biggest poll promise is regularisation of such land, he said.

“If it can happen to the costliest land in the country, then why not in J&K, the former J&K chief minister said.

The DAP chairman said his party was not in favour of illegal occupation of government land by rich and influential people. But there should not be pick and choose while dealing with the big fishes, he said, adding, influential people from any political party, “even from mine”, should not be spared.

He said some people with as little as one or two marlas of land have also got notices. “Such people have small shops on that to sustain their life. They are not businessmen like Ambani or Adani.” “I respect both of them as they have played a role in the country’s economy, in giving employment. I took their names only to make a point that there are no businessmen like them. We have very small businessmen who earn their livelihood for their sustenance,” he said.

He said this government has done a lot of good things, but “I do not understand, why they are trying to put water, through the land issue, over their good deeds”.

Asked about a reported J&K chief secretary directive to officers to check if anybody making negative statements on the anti-encroachment drive has himself or herself encroached upon government land, Azad said no one can be stopped from making any statements in a democracy.

“No one can suppress the voice of the people,” he added.