Assembly: On Gujjar Eviction, Opposition Puts Media on Notice

Riyaz Ul Khaliq

SRINAGAR

Mian Altaf
Mian Altaf

As the discussion on grants to Agriculture sector was going on, National Conference Kangan lawmaker walked in to lower house with a newspaper.

As Congress’ Gulzar Ahmad Wani completed his speech, Mian Altaf stood up waiving the newspaper. “This newspaper has published a news item which is misleading.” Reading out the headline: “Lal Singh Promises Halt to Gujjar, Bakerwal Eviction from Forests”, he said, “through this news item, a notion is being created that Gujjars are occupying forest land which is not true.”

Mian Altaf said that Gujjars are indigenous people and are “not illegal occupiers of land under them”. “We live on our forefathers’ land and if the minister has said such a thing last day, he should withdraw the statement.”

Forest Minister, Lal Singh, was responding to debate on grants to Forest and Ecology Departments of J&K on Tuesday.

“If Minister has not said such things then the newspaper should publish an apology about the same,” Altaf demanded.

After deputy-speaker, Nazir Gurezi intervened and asked Mian Altaf to sit in his seat, Altaf replied, “let me speak or I will take more time.”

According to state law only Gujjars or Bakerwals can construct a Kotha on the forest land.
According to state law only Gujjars or Bakerwals can construct a Kotha on the forest land.

As Mian Altaf started detailing the history of Gujjars, he said, “I want to tell this government (PDP-BJP Combine), which is enemy of not only Gujjars but whole of this state; I want to tell especially BJP which is enemy of whole of India that they can’t continue with this illegal eviction drive.”

As Mian said this, right wing BJP lawmakers stood from their seats bursting into hulla bullo. However, Mian Altaf was joined by rest of the NC lawmakers and a few Congress members who took a jibe at the government for eviction of Gujjars from Jammu region.

“I challenge you (BJP members) to check who is occupying forest land in Samba and Udhampur. It is army,” Mian told the BJP lawmakers all of whom were on their toes.

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