Peace in Kashmir can only be retained with unity: Rahul Gandhi

12 February, 2023 | Pragati Singh

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Rahul Gandhi stated that peace in Jammu and Kashmir could only be maintained through unity.

On Sunday, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi stated that peace in Jammu and Kashmir could only be maintained through unity. “What has Jammu and Kashmir got when all it wants is employment, better business opportunities and love? Bharatiya Janata Party’s bulldozer! The land which the Kashmiris irrigated with their hard work and love is being snatched from them. Kashmiriyat and peace [in the UT] can only be protected if people here are united and not divided,” Rahul Gandhi said in his tweet in Hindi. 

The Wayanad MP’s statements came amid the continuing demolition campaign in the Union Territory, which has been extensively condemned by the local opposition. The government of the Union Territory initiated an eviction effort against unlawful encroachment by ‘large land owners’ and ‘influential’ persons, and almost 23,000 hectares have been retrieved in the Jammu division during the ongoing anti-encroachment drive.

During a demonstration against the anti-encroachment effort in the UT on Wednesday, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Mehbooba Mufti in the national capital said that there is “Gunda Raj” there, and she was held by police.

“There is ‘gunda raj’ in J-K. It is being destroyed like Afghanistan,” Mufti alleged.

Meanwhile, a supposed video emerged showing the PDP chairman and party workers being seized and transported to a police car. The Party previously claimed that “the government is at war with the people” in a tweet.

“This heartless “Homelessness drive” initiated by the LG administration is focused to deposssess the people of J&K,” a PDP tweet said earlier in the month.

“In the garb of ‘reclaiming state land’ from ‘encroachers’. No notices are served and neither do they accept proof of ownership. Simply inhuman & unjust,” Mufti tweeted earlier in the month.

Simultaneously, Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference president Sajad Lone lashed out at the administration during a media briefing on February 6 and warned that the continuing anti-encroachment effort will only result in more people being made homeless.

“We have no objection to the anti-encroachment drive if it is against big landowners. The big landowners will bring their lawyers tomorrow and take back all the encroached land. However, it’s only the poor who are being targeted and left to die,” Lone said in his press briefing.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, chief of the J-K Democratic Azad Party, lashed out at the UT administration over the ongoing anti-encroachment drive on Wednesday (February 8), saying that just as public outrage over the Centre’s repeal of Articles 370 and 35A was waning, the administration had done more harm to the state. Azad stated that his party was the first in the UT to condemn the anti-encroachment effort before other Opposition voices came in.

“At a time when the anger against the Centre (over the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A) has cooled off slightly and militancy, as well as strikes and stone-pelting has been largely contained, the government, instead of drawing the benefits of these positive outcomes, has brought harm to itself by launching the anti-encroachment drive,” Azad told ANI on Wednesday.

He also stated that it was in the government’s best interests to rescind eviction orders in order to keep law and order in the UT.

“Stone-pelting and agitations have started again. In the interest of public order, it is critically important for the administration to end the anti-encroachment drive and create a conducive ambience for the (Assembly) election,” Azad said.

He informed that his party had already mobilised demonstrations in more than 50 locations throughout the UT, including district headquarters, subdivision headquarters, and Tehsil headquarters, while other parties had yet to express their opposition to the decision. Earlier this month, the Democratic Azad Party leader requested that Union Home Minister Amit Shah be informed of “eviction difficulties” in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, on February 6, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah attended a news conference and urged that the list of homes to be demolished be made public so that individuals may make their claims.

He went on to say that there is a proper manner to carry out evictions, and that bulldozers were utilised without the knowledge of the residents. “We don’t support the illegal occupancy of government land. But there is a way in which evictions should be carried out. We demand that lists of properties to be demolished be put out in the public domain so that people can present their claims,” Omar Abdullah added.