Srinagar: Stating that BJP and RSS is hell-bent on dislocating Muslims in Jammu, the Gujjar Muslims are anguished over “selective” demolition in Bandi area of Jammu city.
According to reports, on 18 July the Finance and Forest Department demolished houses belonging to the Gujjar and Bakarwal community as a part of the demolition drive to root out people “living illegally”.
The reports said that the demolition drive came a day after an order by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to remove the illegal occupation. The Jammu district administration demolished houses of people, that it claimed, were living illegally in areas like Sidra, Ragoda, Bandi Mohalla, and Lower Dwada.
However, the demolition drive has raised eyebrows, with people questioning the selective nature of the demolition.
Gujar leader Chowdari Nazakat Kathana told TwoCircles.net that over five residential houses were demolished in a short notice forcing the inhabitants to live under an open sky amid COVID-19 and scorching heat.
Khatana says this was done on the instructions of BJP & RSS leaders, who don’t want to see any Muslim in the Jammu region.
“Gujjar is just the name. Their targets are Muslims. They want entire Jammu to be Muslim free,” Khatana told TwoCircles.net.
Khatana claimed that a local advocate has filed a petition both in the High Court and Supreme Court in the name of “Zamin Jihad” by Muslims. “A smear campaign was also launched against the Muslims of Jammu in different news channels,” he said.
Khatana questioned why the houses were demolished on short notice. “We have been living here for 100 years and we don’t know why our houses were demolished,” said Riyaz Ahmad, whose house was demolished.
Ahmad says if they (Govt) are after recovering state land, why didn’t they recover from politicians, influential people and other people who are close to the establishment.
“Why only us? This makes clear that a particular section of people is being targeted,” he said.
Another man, whose house was demolished by the authorities said that BJP president Ravinder Raina, who was talking about the making of Govt in J&K with the help of Gujjars, should come forward and explain his position.
“He only talks. Let him say a word against the demolition drive now,” Mohammad Zafar told TwoCircles.net.
Meanwhile, according to reports, a meeting of International Gujjar Mahasabha (IGM) was held under the chairmanship of Col Dev Anand Gujjar in which various issues pertaining to the Gujjar community were discussed.
The members from J&K, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, UP, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra participated through video conference in the meeting.
Members unanimously condemned the action of Jammu district administration for selective demolition of the houses of Gujjars in Jammu under the pretext of the anti-encroachment drive.
They recalled the address of the PM at Red Fort wherein he praised the role of Gujjar Bakarwals of J&K and assured to provide all basic amenities for all-round development to the patriotic people.
“The Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir supported and welcomed the abrogation of Article 370 with the hope that they will get their rights which eluded them for years but with a passage of time Gujjars are still feeling isolated and are being selectively targeted by the J&K govt,” they said in a statement.
According to reports, while referring to the ‘selective demolition’ of the houses of Gujjars in Jammu on the grounds of encroachment on state land, they said, “The district administration issued a notice on 17 July 2020 to vacate the land within 5 days but demolished the structures on the very next day i.e. 18 July 2020 in utter disregard for law of the land, without giving any opportunity of being heard and against the principle of natural justice.”
In a unanimous resolution, the IGM requested the Lieutenant Governor of J&K to direct the Divisional administration to take cognizance of Tribal Forest Right Act of 2006 and issue an order for investigation on the issue and stop any such selective demolition in future.
This story first appeared on July 24, 2020 here.