Give people chance to prove claim, make bulldozers last resort: Omar Abdullah

SRINAGAR: Hitting out at the government over the “random” and “unchecked” demolition drives being conducted across J&K, National Conference (NC) Vice President Omar Abdullah Monday said that the authorities should make “bulldozer” its last resort.

Addressing a news conference here, Abdullah said, “I believe that people should be given a chance to prove their claim and issue proper notices to the people having illegal possession of State land. Bulldozer should be the last option when other options don’t work out.”

He said that these demolitions had created an environment of “chaos” and “frustration” among the people.

“I get calls from different parts of Kashmir wherein people claim that they have Malkiat lands and the government is taking it away saying that it is the State land. It has created chaos and confusion among the people and they are being made to suffer,” Abdullah said. “No one knows the truth about what is going on. People are being threatened and terrorised. I request the government to stop all this.”

He said that they do not support anyone illegally occupying the State land. “But the government should come up with a list of the encroachers in the public domain as they claim,” Abdullah said.

He said earlier a list of encroachers was doing rounds in the media, which also mentions his name and his party’s office.

“Later that list disappeared and another list was out. Later, the government lawyer told the High Court these are all ‘forged’ lists and the government has not prepared any list. Then in which capacity is the government running the bulldozer,” Abdullah said.

He said that his sister’s house at Gupkar had also been named in the list.

“But she went to the court with all the legal documents. Its lease is still intact and has yet many years to expire. We are waiting for the court’s decision which is about to come,” Abdullah said.

Talking about the alleged encroachments by the owners of the Nedous Hotel, he said that they had all the legal documents.

“But the authorities forcibly entered their property and demolished it. When they asked the officers on the spot to see the documents, they denied saying that they were under pressure from the higher authorities,” he said.

Regarding his colleague, Ali Muhammad Sagar, who is also the General Secretary of NC, Abdullah said that they were out of the station when his property was demolished.

“No notice was served to Sagar Sahab. Authorities say they served a notice to him three months back, but at least give us its receipt. Isn’t there any law in place which can check all this,” he said. “As far as I know, if someone refuses to take the eviction notice, you have to paste it outside the gate of the property, but you are also not doing this. You are only creating a lawless society.”

Abdullah said that these demolition drives had become a source of corruption for some government authorities.

“Since there is no official list of encroachers, many officials on the ground call people saying that your name is in the list. Give us money and no one will touch you,” he said.

Abdullah said that this issue had been created to divide the people.

“They want to divide people on religious, caste, and economic lines. The government should have taken steps that we have advocated which would have stopped the misuse of State land, which don’t create differences, and are cut across religious lines,” he said.

On the demolition drives being carried out in Jammu, he said, “It is totally imbalance. The drives in the areas clarify what are their intentions. They are trying to affect the brotherhood of the regions.”

Abdullah said that the government could help those sitting on the State land regularise if such policies exist in other parts of the country.

“This will bring ease in the common man’s life and help the government earn as well,” he said.

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