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DDC member among 8 held over Jammu violence; protests continue in Valley against L-G’s eviction drive

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An elected District Development Council (DDC) member was among half a dozen persons rounded up by the Jammu & Kashmir Police on Tuesday, two days after violence broke out in Jammu’s Malik Market and Bathindi areas, during a demolition drive against “illegal structures”. A street demonstration was also held in Srinagar by the members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the Lieutenant-Governor’s administration “anti-encroachment drive”.

Official sources said a DDC member, Mehraj Malik from Doda and affiliated to the Aam Aadmi Party, was detained for questioning in Jammu. Mr. Malik was accused of making a speech at the site where violence broke out.

`Inquilab Zindabad’ legal

“There should be no media trial for Mr. Malik. Inquilab Zindabad slogan is within the limits of rights granted by the Constitution. The slogan expresses anger against the dispensation’s moves. Let the court decide if Mr. Malik’s speech was provocative or within his fundamental right,” an AAP spokesman said in Jammu.

At least eight locals have been arrested during a police investigation in the stone-pelting case against the officials and security forces.

Activists of the BJP and the Shiv Sena held street protests against stone-throwers in Jammu. “These stone-pelters have come from Kashmir to Jammu,” a BJP leader said.

“A Special Investigation Team (SIT) should launch a probe against the revenue officials who have changed the revenue records of State lands and sold them to people. Titles of the lands from the State to private ones have been changed. We seek a probe against the revenue officials— Patwaris, Girdawarees and tehsildars who tampered with the records. We want action against them,” J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina said.

In Srinagar, scores of PDP leaders held a street demonstration against the L-G administration’s ongoing drive to evict locals from the ‘State’ land. They demanded that bulldozers be halted “as poor locals have right over the land”. Members of the AAP also held a protest in Srinagar and urged the L-G administration to spare poor people.

CPI (M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said the eviction drive had spurred fear and anger among the people. “With authorities running earthmovers everywhere, the claims of the administration about not touching the ordinary people have proven to be a farce. There is a complete disconnect between what the administration says and what it does,” Mr. Tarigami said.

An official estimate suggested over 20,000 hectares of ‘State’ land had been retrieved from the locals during the drive, which included politicians from the National Conference, the PDP, the Congress and the Peoples Conference since January this year.

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