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Scores of Tribals Left Homeless As JDA Conducts Eviction Drive
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Scores of Tribals Left Homeless As JDA Conducts Eviction Drive

“JDA did not spare even a 90-year-old Chacha in Jammu and rendered him homeless. This is the development of Gujjars and Bakerwals that BJP is claiming.” 


SRINAGAR — The Jammu Development Authority has come under severe criticism for demolishing the homes of several Gujjar and Bakarwal families in the Roopnagar area of the Jammu district.

The demolition drive was carried out by the officials of Jammu Development Authority (JDA) on the land that the administration alleges was illegally occupied by the Tribal families.

The families said that the drive was carried out Tuesday morning. They said that the eviction was carried out without any prior notice. They alleged that the JDA entered their houses, evicted them, and demolished their properties.

Chaudhary Nazir, a local resident said that nearly a dozen families were evicted from the area. These tribal families have been living in the area for the last over 70 years.

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The act has drawn severe criticism from across the valley after the videos of the eviction drive went viral on social media.  

A tribal lady was seen speaking about “the atrocities inflicted upon them by the employees of JDA”. The lady was seen pleading to the authorities not to evict them out of their homes. “We make a living by raising livestock. Please take all our land but don’t render us homeless. Where shall we go.”  

The Gujjar and Bakarwal community of Jammu and Kashmir are nomadic pastoralists and are a transhumance community of the Himalayas. They commence the biannual migration with the flock of their cattle between the meadows of Kashmir and Ladakh during summers and the plains of Jammu in winters.

The activists and lawyers vocal and for the rights of tribal people condemned the JDA’s act and termed it as “utterly shameful”.

Shahid Chowdhary, a lawyer at Jammu High Court, addressing a press conference in Srinagar, said that these people were living in the Roopnagar area for decades.

“Even the women, children, ailing and elderly persons were not spared in these harsh weather conditions and were rendered homeless,” he said.

He said that forcing them out of their homes without any prior notice and vandalising the properties is utterly “shameful” and against humanity.

Calling it a conspiracy against a “particular community” he asked: “What kind of development and betterment is this where you are dispossessing and displacing your own people including children?”

He said the administration is treating its own people as criminals.

Tribal and Gujjar activist, Zahid Parwaz Choudhary, who is also president of the Jammu and Kashmir Gujjar Bakarwal Youth Welfare Conference called the JDA’s drive selective and said that JDA instead of constructing new houses, they are shamefully bulldozing homes.

“JDA did not spare even 90-year-old Chacha in Jammu, rendered him homeless. This is the Development of Gujjars and Bakerwals that BJP is claiming.” 

After the eviction drive, the regional politicians condemned the act and called out the issue on social media.

JKPDP President, Mehbooba Mufti said that the demolition of houses and rendering people homeless by the J&K administration in Jammu is a way to target and vent out hatred against minorities. 

“J&K admin’s selective demolition of houses in Jammu & rendering tribals homeless is yet another method to vent their hatred by targeting minorities. Seemingly these communal policy decisions are sanctioned at the top. People need to stand up against such atrocities (SIC),” tweeted Mufti.

Communist Party leader and the spokesperson of Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami tweeted, “This is how ST and tribal communities are being treated while the Govt claims to be empowering them.” 

The Ex Cabinet Minister and the Advocate in Supreme court, Choudhary Zulfikar Ali while seeking LG’s intervention in the matter tweeted, “The state is duty-bound to provide shelter to the homeless people, what so ever is happening is unacceptable, when the Government of India has assured us Proper implementation of FRA and will improve the socio-economic conditions of the tribals.”

Pankaj Magotra, Vice Chairman of the JDA, told Mountain Ink that he was not authorised to speak to the media. However, he spoke to New Delhi-based media organisation Newsclick and said they have only followed the procedure. About allegations of being selective, he said, “we are a government body, so we cannot be selective”.

He said the case was lost in the court following litigation. “We have already allotted plots in that colony, and we have sold them to people who are waiting, and we are answerable to them also,” he said.

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