Threat of “hartal and stone-pelting” culture returning due to anti-encroachment drive: Ghulam Nabi Azad

SRINAGAR — Ghulam Nabi Azad, the chairman of the Democratic Azad Party (DAP), warned the government of Jammu and Kashmir on against continuing with its anti-encroachment drive because it could lead to the resurgence of the “hartal and stone-pelting” culture.

The Government has made some positive changes, including banning stone-pelting and the hartal culture (in Kashmir). It is a good thing that has happened, but if they start demolishing homes and small businesses, there is a chance that hartals and stone-pelting may return, and the government will be held accountable for it, he said.

The people were responsible for hartals and stone-pelting, but now the government will be held accountable if it happens again. The government must capitalize on optimism rather than promote negativity, he said according to PTI.

Azad advised that the government should stop the drive as it is a loss for it as well as the poor. “I am not speaking for big land owners, businessmen, politicians or thieves (land grabbers). If this drive is stopped, 98 per cent (of the poor) will be benefited. My only aim is that the homes of the poor and their small businesses remain intact so that they can earn their livelihood in a peaceful atmosphere,” he said.

The DAP leader said the government should take a decision immediately in the interest of peace and issue an order to put an end to the eviction drive against the poor.

Azad alleged that eviction drive has resulted in corruption as people were paying bribes to revenue officials to ensure their names do not feature among those who have encroached on state land.

“The drive has also generated corruption. Patwaris, tehsildars and other revenue officials are taking bribes from people to ensure that their names are not listed (among the encroachers). It (revenue department) has become a den of corruption,” he alleged.

He said the government should not do anything which will end up spreading negativity as lakhs of people have been served notices asking them to vacate their homes and wind up their businesses.

Azad thanked Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha for their assurances of not harming the poor population but demanded that an official order should be issued to provide relief to the distressed people.

On allegations that the drive was discriminatory and those associated with the BJP were not touched, Azad according to PTI said, “Anyone who has done wrong, whether he is from BJP, Congress, NC, PDP or Apni Party, should face the law. Harassing the public or indulging in pick and choose will go against the government. It will create disharmony and the situation is bound to return to the likes of the 1990s.”

He said, “Elections (assembly) have not taken place for a very long time, unemployment is on the rise and inflation has skyrocketed. We need to provide such an atmosphere where people can breathe easy but they are having sleepless nights in their own country.