Gujjar houses demolished in Jammu, citing “illegal” construction

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On 18 July, the Finance and Forest Department demolished houses belonging to the Gujjar and Bakarwal community in Bandi area of Jammu district as a part of the demolition drive to root out people “living illegally”.

The demolition drive comes after an order by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to remove the illegal occupation. The Jammu district administration demolished houses of people, that it claimed, were living illegally in areas like Sidra, Ragoda, Bandi Mohalla, and Lower Dwada.

However, the demolition raised eyebrows, with people questioning the selective nature of demolition. 

One of the people, whose house was demolished, claimed that he was living in the area for fifty years and the Forest and Revenue Department “never objected” to it. “Now suddenly the administration has  demolished our houses, which makes it clear that special Class people are being targeted,” a local resident said.

“Although other people in Jammu have taken possession of hundreds of Kanals of forest land, the forest department has not taken action against them,” said another local resident, Noor Mohammad, adding that Muslims living in the minority are being targeted.

“If the department or the government is demolishing our house, then they should provide us with an alternative space or reasonable compensation so that we do not have to sleep on the road side,” he said. (With inputs from The Kashmiriyat)

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