National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Monday said the Jammu and Kashmir administration should halt the anti-encroachment drive to reclaim state land and instead allow the people to prove their claims over the properties.
"Bulldozer cannot be the first response of a government. It's not a government's job to harass people. It's job is to heal the wounds," Abdullah told reporters here.
The former chief minister said his party was against the grabbing of the state land. However, the administration must follow due course of law while carrying out eviction drive.
Referring to several lists of alleged encroachers circulating on social media, Abdullah said he did not expect to find his family house on Gupkar road in these lists as they had an active lease on it.
"My sister approached the High Court where the government advocates took a stand that the lists in public domain are fake. Then what is the basis of demolitions carried out right now?," he asked.
No paperwork was done wherever the demolition was carried out. Media was informed in advance, but the occupants have no information, he added.
Abdullah said allegations have started pouring in that officials are using the demolition drive on the ground to seek illegal gratifications.
"We have reports that people whose name figures in the lists are asked to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to get their names off it. There are people who have active lease or proprietary land but are still being subjected to demolition without paperwork," he said.
The NC leader said the government should stop the demolition drive and publish the list of people it deems illegal encroachers.
"Make the list of encroachers public. Give them four to six weeks to substantiate their claims, if they have any. Those who cannot substantiate their claims should be notified and given time to remove the encroachments on their own," he said.
Abdullah said the government should come up with a scheme to allow the regularisation of the illegal occupants like it is done in other parts of the country, including Delhi.
"A scheme should be framed to give an option to regularise their possessions. We have seen in Delhi so many colonies were regularised. It will generate revenue for the government as well," he added.
Asked about the assurance given by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha that poor people will be spared, Abdullah said the law was equal for all.
"There is nowhere in the constitution that laws are different for rich and poor. This pick and choose is just to create a wave," he said.
He also dismissed suggestions that the judiciary was acting on the instructions of the government.
"If judiciary were following government directions, the bulldozer would have been outside my sister's house," he said.
Asked if the eviction drive was connected to elections, Abdullah said, "I can't say if this issue is connected to elections in JK. I don't think this issue will resonate in the elections for the Parliament."
In response to another question, he said there was an “apparent imbalance” in demolitions in the Jammu region.
"Attempts are being made in a calculated way to disturb the brotherhood and amity (in Jammu)," he added.