PDP, Panthers Party stage protests against new land laws
The BJP government’s new land reforms in Jammu and Kashmir have stirred the hornet’s’ nest in Jammu and Kashmir with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Panthers Party staging separate protests demanding repeal of the new land laws that have paved the way for people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land in the Union Territory.
A swarm of PDP supporters descended at the party office here and later took out a protest rally led by former MLC and party general secretary Surinder Choudhary. A posse of police officials had a tough time in dealing with the protestors who carried Tricolours and party flags and tried to disrupt vehicular movement on the ever- busy BC Road in the posh Gandhi Nagar area.
This was the first major political activity by the PDP amid repeated attempts by various groups and individuals to hoist the national flag on the party headquarters after its president Mehbooba Mufti had last week stoked a controversy with her remarks on the national flag.
In her first press conference after over 14-month detention in Srinagar, the former chief minister had on last Friday said that she was not interested in contesting elections or holding the tricolour till the constitutional changes enforced on August 5 last year were rolled back.
Later addressing media persons Choudhary said, “We protested against black laws introduced by the BJP government. In Nagaland and Assam people are demanding that outsiders be sent back to their native places and here in J&K the BJP has opened the floodgates for the outsiders to come and settle here”.
“While the Tricolour is our national pride and will remain so, we want restoration of special status and the state flag, which was given to us by the Indian Constitution. Mehbooba’s statements were distorted out of context. Our state flag and Tricolour were both brothers and we want both of them back,” he added.
Choudhary, a close confidante of Mehbooba, said, “First BJP revoked Article 370 and downgraded the state into two UTs. They then rescinded permanent resident certificate (PRC) and introduced domicile law. Six months ago the BJP had assured people that their jobs and land will be protected. Now, they have brought new land laws wherein neither PRC nor domicile will be required to purchase land in the UT.”
The PDP leader said that none will go to Kashmir and outsiders will settle down in Jammu . “Jammu will bear the maximum brunt and isn’t it our duty to safeguard the future of our children,” he asked.
“Domicile law was introduced with this assurance that no jobs and lands will go to outsiders. Does BJP want to work as real estate agents and indulge in sale and purchase of state land?” he said.
Choudhary also said that with the new land laws, crime rate, including rape cases, will also increase. The former legislator clarified that the crime graph in J&K was low as compared to other parts of India.
“I will clarify that when outsiders will come they will not start committing rapes but the crime graph will alter. In Jammu, we have a peaceful atmosphere where our daughters come down from the hills and remote villages to cities to study and return in the evening . Now, look at Faridabad, where a young girl was shot dead on Tuesday. We all know about Hathras. A number of rapes are taking place in the country on a daily basis,” he said.
Choudhary said that if Assam, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland can safeguard their interests, why can’t J&K.
“Our protest is against the anti-people policies of the BJP, especially the new land law. This land belongs to our future generations and the BJP is cheating the people of Jammu and misleading them,” he added.
PDP activist Mohammad Amin, who was holding the Tricolour in the rally amid pro-India sloganeering by his party colleagues, said “We have been holding this flag from school days. We love our country.”
Meanwhile, Panthers Party chairman and former minister Harh Dev Singh also led a strong protest demonstration near exhibition ground here and rejected the new land laws for Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is an insult to the vision of last Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh who had introduced state subject in 1927 to protect the jobs and lands of locals. The saffron party arbitrarily notified the new law against the wishes of the people,” he said.