‘Kashmir Could Resemble Gorakhpur’: Mehbooba Slams Centre for Razing Hutments of Nomadic Tribe

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has hit out at the government for razing hill hutments of a nomadic tribe in Pahalgam in the “guise of clearing encroachments”.

Mufti, who was released last month — after 14 months of detention – further said the new land laws introduced in the region that could lead to opening of industries on a large scale would make Kashmir look like Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.

The PDP leader visited Lidroo village in South Kashmir on Monday and met members of the Gujjar community, some of whose mud and log huts were razed to ground last week.

She accused the government of implementing sinister agendas of displacing the Gujjar and Bakarwal tribes under the garb of new land laws.

Mufti said the current dispensation was hounding the depressed communities of Jammu and Kashmir and the actual displacement of local people has started with the forcible eviction of nomads from their pastures.

“The Gujjars have been using log and mud sheds in pasture lands since times immemorial during the grazing season. They are part of the forest and our environment. Sadly, a drive has been launched to demolish these structures which they use as temporary shelters during summers,” she said.

The PDP chief said Gujjar families have been harassed, using strong-arm methods when they tried to resist an attack on their main source of livelihood.

“Does this mean these nomadic tribes can no longer go to pastures? Is that the Part 2 of this displacement scheme? Who do they intend to sell the forest land to?” the former chief minister said.

She said the government of the Union Territory of J&K has requisitioned 24,000 kanals of forest land for setting up industries.

“It will be a disaster for not only the forests and environment, but also render the Gujjar community homeless.”

She said the Forest Act of 2006, which provided a legal framework for Gujjar and Bakarwal rights on forest land, is not being implemented but laws aimed to displace locals are being unleashed on them.

At the same time, the Central Land Acquisition Act is not being implemented, to ensure that landholders of J&K do not receive any benefit therefrom, Mufti said.

She added the assault on Gujjar and Bakerwal populations is a “wake-up call for all of us and that the dislocation has begun with them and it will hit all of us”.

“I call upon the government to immediately stop this illegal encroachment and harassment of a marginalised and most vulnerable community, who will do everything to peacefully resist this and defend their rights,” she said.

Mufti said August 5, 2019, was not an event but the beginning of a process of complete disempowerment and displacement of the people of Jammu & Kashmir and that the process has been unfolding in parts with most of the new laws targeting land, resources and population of the newly carved Union territories.

“The new domicile laws have opened a flood gate of not just bona fide entrance but for a planned mass influx of different kinds of people which its planners think could be part of its strategic management of the Muslim majority state. This influx in the coming years will change the complexion of the state and all its regions and sub-regions, including Jammu, Ladakh, Pir Panjal and Chenab, beyond recognition.

“The land laws have thrown wide open the most vital resource of the region which is their land. The scenic beauty of the state is a vital input into its economy, which with new influx will be a sure casualty and with plans of opening industries on a large scale, Kashmir could look no different from Gorakhpur,” said the PDP supremo.

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