The National Investigation Agency (NIA) carried out raids for the second straight day on Thursday even as political leaders across Jammu and Kashmir continue to galvanise protests against the Centre’s decision to allow sale of land in the erstwhile state.
The NIA followed up its raids on non-profit organisations, charitable trusts, journalists, rights activists and a newspaper office by carrying out searches in nine more locations in Kashmir and Delhi as part of its investigations into alleged raising of money through public donations for separatist activities.
“Several incriminating documents and electronic devices have been seized during searches. Further investigation in the case is continued," read an NIA press statement.
While sleuths of the NIA, CRPF and local police remained busy carrying out searches, former J&K chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti insisted on meeting her party leaders in the lock-up after they were detained for taking out a rally in protest against the Centre’s fresh notification that allows outsiders to purchase land in the newly carved union territory.
Mufti was stopped by police officers and asked to return to her Gupkar residence. She later told reporters she is not afraid to hit the streets and will not allow the BJP government at the Centre to loot and plunder the resources of the region.
The former CM said central agencies were being used to intimidate Kashmiris so that one is able to raise their voice.
“Neither journalists nor civil society representatives or politicians are allowed to talk. People in Bihar demand jobs and food from the BJP and this party tells them to purchase land in Kashmir. Kashmir is being used in every election now," she said, adding, “There is total anarchy and lawlessness. Come what may, we will not remain mute. We have waged a fight."
Mufti’s one-time political rival and now ally Omar Abdullah said the present fight is not for the chair or chief ministership but to fight for the rights of the people. “Curse be upon us if we even think of doing this (launching the fight) for being in power," he said.
Meanwhile, tension seems to be flaring up in Jammu, considered a strong bastion of the saffron camp, over the Centre’s fresh notified land laws. Several Dogra leaders, claiming Duggar or Dogra identity, have flayed the government for doing nothing to safeguard land and jobs of locals.
Jammu’s heartland is a BJP stronghold where Dogras, who are Hindus, form a majority in the region. The BJP has been able to create a solid base here due to the support offered by Dogras in Assembly and Parliament elections, having won both Jammu Lok Sabha seats in the last two elections.
In the last Assembly elections, the BJP bagged 25 of the 37 seats in Jammu region that also includes Muslim belts of Rajouri, Poonch and Chenab Valley.
Supporters of Jammu-based Panthers Party and PDP took to the streets in Jammu city against the new land laws. In Srinagar, the PDP’s attempted march was stopped before it could get started. Five senior leaders, including its youth president Waheed Para, Khursheed Alam and spokesman Suhail Bukhari, were stopped and let off later.
In Jammu, Harsh Dev Singh of the Panthers Party told local media the Centre’s new decision will turn Jammu residents into slaves of outsiders.
“Anybody can buy land here without PRCs (Permanent Resident Certificates) and domicile certificates… Big sharks will settle here and usurp the land of poor people," he said.
Singh said the BJP-led government at the Centre has not introduced such laws in Ladakh due to the unity of the (Buddhist) leadership there, unlike the situation in Jammu.
“We will appeal to people to wake up. They have imposed laws upon us against our wishes. They are making laws directly from Delhi,” he said.
“Everyone knew that very few will purchase land in Kashmir because of the strife there. Jammu is safe and non-locals will purchase agricultural land on the fake or forged agricultural certificate without actually residing for the minimum period," a prominent lawyer wrote on social media.
“The day is not far away when maximum agricultural land from Jammu province may be sold away to outsiders on the basis of mere false or forged agricultural certificates," he said.
Apni Party supporters also protested by coming on the roads. Its party leader Vikram Malhotra said new land laws were betrayal with the people and “will be a threat and an onslaught on Dogra culture.”
Sunil Dimple, president of Jammu West Assembly Movement, in an emotional video, called for unity between Dogras and Muslims of the erstwhile state for “restoration of statehood, special status and for protection of rights of people of J&K."
PDP leader Surinder Choudhary said the influx of non-locals will increase rapes in Jammu. He said even states like Assam and Maharashtra were against the settling of outsiders. “The Dogra culture is under threat,” he said, referring to rapes in “Hathras and Faridabad."
Congress leader Ravinder Sharma said the BJP government has facilitated “the sale of land to all non-J&K residents, at the cost of interests, culture and identity of people of the erstwhile Dogra state.” The BJP and some other local groups in Jammu, however, did not oppose the move.