At least two dozen people, including the vice-chairman of the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) and a police officer, were injured during violent protests against an anti-encroachment drive in Jammu on Saturday.
An eye witnesses said a posse of JDA officials, Jammu and Kashmir police and CRPF reached the Nikki Tawi area next to fourth bridge, Bhagwati Nagar, Jammu at around 7 am.
“As the police contingent approached the area to demolish the ‘illegal structures’, the locals, mostly Gujjars, initially protested and then started pelting stones at the JDA and police teams, forcing them to move back,” he said.
In the attack, around two dozen people, including the JDA VC, SHO Bakshi Nagar and a local web journalist were injured.
While accusing the JDA of being selective, the protesting locals said they should have been intimated before the demolition drive. “Where were the JDA officials when we’re raising the structures? Today, when we have spent lakhs on our buildings, they are out to bulldoze them,” said a protesting woman. “Before razing our structures, they have to demolish illegal structures raised by former ministers and MLAs. Why are these drives selective?”
A local Gujjar leader, Choudhary Nazakat Ali Khatana said that the structures raised adjacent to fourth bridge at Nikki Tawi area were not illegal.
He said that the locals have electricity and water connections and they are paying the government all kinds of taxes. “We also have the ration cards and Aadhar cards,” he said, adding that the JDA drive was launched only to harass Muslims.
Director Land Management, JDA, Devinder Singh Katoch, however said that the “encroachers” are being issued notices every month. “We have directions from the high court to remove all the illegal settlements around Tawi River from Nagrota to Fallain Mandal. We are issuing notices to the encroachers through print and electronic media every month, but every time we try to remove their structures, they pelt stones on our teams,” he said.