Put an immediate halt on the bulldozers in J&K : Omar

Srinagar,  Former chief minister and National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah on Monday asked the government to put an immediate halt on the bulldozers in Jammu and Kashmir.

He said the bulldozers should not be the first response in J&K. Over the past one week, the anti encroachment drive launched by J&K government to retrieve the “state land” has been in full swing .

“Bulldozers should not be the first response and it should be the last. We are asking the government to put a halt on the bulldozers,” Omar said while addressing a press conference in Srinagar.

He said they are not in favour of anyone encroaching land but the government must issue notices first and ask people for explanation first if anyone has encroached land.

“Wherever bulldozer goes for demolition in any area, prior notices are served. Why is the government not coming up with an official list if there is any(encroacher ) … Situation is like ‘jis Ki lathi ous ki bhains (he who has the stick owns the buffalo)'” Omar said. “We do not support encroachment on government land but there has to be a process for these evictions. Place the lists and records in the public domain and give them time to respond before taking any action.”

Omar said the people across Jammu and Kashmir have been troubled with this ongoing drive and there is chaos and confusion.

He said that recently his sister approached the High Court regarding a house for which she has a valid lease but was mentioned in “so called encroachment list” circulated on social media.

“Government lawyer told the High Court the list is fake. We are asking on what basis bulldozers are being sent to places ( to demolish),” he said.

On the government statement that the poor would be spared, Omar said law doesn’t distinguish between poor and rich.

“…with these kinds of statements the intentions of the government are exposed,” Omar said. “This (anti-encroachment) drive is an attempt to divide people…They want to create a wedge between rich and poor now.”

Omar alleged that there was an imbalance in this anti-encroachment drive considering which areas are targeted in Jammu reflecting their calculated design to disturb brotherhood here.

The NC vice president said the present government were always enemies of the policy of land to tiller reforms introduced by party founder late Sheikh Abdullah.

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

The former chief minister said major decisions like the anti-encroachment should be kept for the elected government here.