Democratic Azad Party (DAP) chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad has sought intervention of Union Home Minister Amit Shah against the ongoing land eviction drive in Jammu and Kashmir, where aggrieved people continued their protests at different places on Thursday.
The National Conference and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also demanded an immediate end to the drive, while J&K BJP requested the Lt Governor-led administration to restrict the campaign to politicians, police officers and bureaucrats who have "misused" their power in the past to grab the land.
Azad called upon Home Minister Shah in New Delhi on Wednesday and apprised him about "serious unrest and uncertainty" prevailing among the public at large in Jammu and Kashmir due to the eviction drive launched by the administration to remove encroachments on state land including Roshni and Kacharai, the DAP said in a statement here.
It said the former chief minister requested the Home Minister that the majority of occupants who are holding small lands and have constructed houses for the last few decades are migrants and are mostly victims of militancy, as well as victims of abnormal situations arising from time to time, being a border state.
"This is also a fact that the governments provided road connectivity, supply of water and electricity, schools, anganwadi centres and other welfare schemes including health-related facilities to these houses from time to time which implicitly indicates that successive state governments in a way have recognized these constructions," the DAP said.
It said Azad requested the home minister that at least poor people having small holdings of land and houses should be spared from the eviction drive.
"The Home Minister assured Azad that small land holders will not be harassed," the statement said.
While thousands of people including women and children continued their protests in Kunjwani-Bhatindi area on the outskirts of Jammu city for the fourth successive day against the eviction notices, members of Jammu Kashmir Kissan Tehreek led by senior CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami staged a protest in Kathua district town against the eviction drive.
"The land in question is under the occupation of people for generations and there is no justification in the eviction drive which is just to harass the public and deviate their attention from the real issues like statehood, elections, inflation and unemployment," Tarigami alleged.
He said the people of Jammu and Kashmir need to come together against the alleged anti-people policies of the BJP-led government to safeguard the future of the coming generations.
"They have taken away our constitutional rights, our statehood and are now bent upon to take away our land. They are polarizing the situation to pitch people of different regions and sub-regions against each other," he said, asking the people to take a cue from the people of Ladakh who have joined hands to press for statehood and constitutional safeguards for their land and jobs.
J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina, meanwhile, said they welcome the land eviction drive against influential people like politicians, bureaucrats and police officers who have misused their power to grab the state land in the past.
However, he said the ordinary people who do not possess much land and are poor should not be made to suffer under the drive.
Raina alleged that land grabbers are provoking the people to come on the roads against the drive to save their skin.
National Conference provincial president Jammu Rattan Lal Gupta said the anti-encroachment drive has led to chaotic situations all across the region with people getting frightened over the uncertainty about their future.
He made a fervent appeal to the Lt Governor to come out with a people-friendly policy to ensure that no one should be rendered homeless or jobless due to any kind of unfair action.
Senior AAP leader and former minister Harsh Dev Singh regretted that the indigent farmers, labourers and other landless people were being dispossessed of their marginal land holdings despite the assurances of the Lt Governor, thereby creating massive public uproar and resultant disenchantment with the present regime.
He claimed that while BJP leaders were left untouched, the government had launched a full-scale eviction drive against the "poor and uninfluential", creating massive resentment amongst the common masses.
"Selective action against the poor, indigent and homeless people to the exclusion of the privileged class of saffron brigade was not only reprehensible but amounted to a sin of the highest order," he said.
He called upon the Lt Governor to issue a written order to stop demolition proceedings against the poor and other homeless people.
Reports of protests by people were also received from various district headquarters in Jammu and Kashmir.