Demolition Drives in Kashmir- Is India following the Israeli Model in Kashmir?
The J&K government has started a massive demolition drive to reportedly remove encroachments on the state land of Jammu and Kashmir. The district administration of Srinagar launched this massive anti-encroachment campaign across the district on Saturday. As a result, 409 Kanal of State land worth more than Rs 240.58 crore were reclaimed from “powerful land grabbers.”. Meanwhile, Kashmiri intellectuals are alarmed regarding the disturbing pattern which depicts India following the Israeli model in Kashmir.
Kashmiris are historically known to unconditionally show solidarity with Palestinians and continue to do so in the face of the illegal occupation by Israel and its bloody legacy of oppression. Terror-stricken Kashmiris now wonder if theirs will be the fate similar to their brethren in Palestine under the illegal Israeli occupation.
Politicians and people of the public claim that the push also affects poor and common people who have relied on modest landholdings for decades to live or survive. They have expressed deep concerns over the encroachment drive. Manoj Sinha, the J&K LG, promised that only “influential people who exploited their approach to usurp state land” would be targeted instead of underprivileged people.
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The Claims of the LG Government
The anti-encroachment operation, according to officials, has begun in all seven of the district’s tehsils, including those of Chanapora, Pantha Chowk, Khanyar, Eidgah, and north and south Srinagar. They asserted that the special anti-encroachment teams set up by the Srinagar district administration and commanded by various tehsildars carried out extensive anti-encroachment drives with the assistance of the Police and other pertinent authorities.
The government officials asserted that the continuing anti-encroachment action that was started to regain State property from the intruders had been made plain by the LG government that it would not have an effect on the poor and general public.
The officials claim that the LG government further declared that only people who had occupied State land forcibly exploiting their positions would face serious punishment because the administration cared about defending the interests of the poor.
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Opposition Parties Disapproval
The opposition parties in Jammu and Kashmir, including the former CM Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Omar Abdullah’s National Conference, and the party led by the Indian National Congress have been in constant disapproval of the BJP post the removal of Article 370 in the former state of J & K. The Opposition parties have now sought a white paper on the situation amid widespread rumors that land excavators have been dispatched by the administration to all of Kashmir’s districts for the purpose of conducting massive demolition efforts.
Anxieties have only grown since a report detailing the status of land in Kashmir was allegedly removed from the Divisional Commissioner’s (Kashmir) official website. The opposition claims that the administration is arbitrarily targeting people for political purposes in light of the survey’s strange disappearance from the website, which was apparently conducted by J&K’s Revenue Department in 2001 to advance the implementation of the Roshni Act.
According to the Roshni Act, 20.46 lakh kanal of public land was chosen in 2001 for ownership transfer to private parties in exchange for a premium that was projected to bring in Rs 25,000 crore. According to the J&K government, the funds would be used to develop hydropower projects. Despite the fact that there are numerous cases ongoing before the HC challenged the order, the High Court abolished the act in 2018.
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For the GOI It Will Always Be About The Land
In its monthly newsletter, ‘Speak Up’, released on Sunday, February 5, PDP (People’s Democratic Party) said that in the past three years “the only reforms we have received from the Centre are land laws because for GOI (Government of India) it will always be about the land”. The PDP asserted on Sunday that the present anti-encroachment campaign in Jammu and Kashmir is yet another attempt to “seize our land and cause massive changes to our demography,” and that the Centre has “prioritized” evicting innocent Kashmiris from their homes over tackling unemployment and the safety of Kashmiri Pandits.
The party argued that the Centre’s recent move to arm village defense committees in the Jammu neighborhood of Rajouri testifies to their “myopic vision” of the Kashmir issue, which prevents them from seeing beyond the scope of a gun. “What seems like a simple solution may very well end up creating communal tensions by driving a wedge between the local communities that have been living in harmony up until now,” it said. “Such measures will further add to the apprehensions of the people about the government’s intent to alter our demography by dispossessing the locals and incentivizing outside settlers to take their place. It’s no secret that GOI’s Kashmir policy emulates the Israeli model in Palestine,” the PDP said.
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Bulldozers Being Fanned Out To Terrorize People
A former chief minister of J&K Omar Abdullah, said on Monday, February 7, that several lists of purported encroachments are making the rounds on social media. He said that one such list demonstrates how several well-known buildings, including the National Conference headquarters, Governor’s House, UN office, and his residence on Gupkar Road in Srinagar, have been built on encroached land. “This list has disappeared and another is in public domain now. The situation has left everyone anguished. The administration has told the court that these lists are fake, so we want to know the basis on which the bulldozers are being fanned out across J&K to terrorize people,” Omar said.
Chairman of Peoples Conference, Sajad Lone, said that the administration was carrying out the eviction drive arbitrarily, “Not a day passes when the houses of poor people are not being demolished. No notices are being served. No legal procedure is being followed. The law of the land can’t be violated like this,” Sajad said addressing a press conference on Monday.
“Ninety-five percent of encroachers in J&K are Muslims while a few others have been thrown into the list to make it look like a fair exercise,” Sajad added.
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Painful Resemblance with Palestine
As heart-wrenching pictures and videos of displaced Kashmiri families were circulated around social media platforms, people and Kashmiris across the world started voicing their concerns over Kashmir’s painful resemblance with Palestine.
Following a policy developed by radical right-wing ministers in the nation’s new government, Israeli authorities have increased the demolition of Palestinian homes in portions of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to local leaders. Buildings in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sur Baher, Wadi Al-Hummus, and Silwan were demolished by Israeli bulldozers on Wednesday. Human rights advocates asked people to openly condemn the demolitions by tweeting statements on social media.
Since the beginning of this January, occupation forces have razed 30 homes in a number of the historic city’s neighborhoods. Last year, 211 Palestinian homes were demolished in Jerusalem.
Tweeting about the current situation in Kashmir, Ather Zia, a Kashmiri political anthropologist shared a picture of a displaced elderly Palestinian couple as a reference from Palestine and stated that “language of encroachment & demolitions is classic settler colonial logic”.
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