Demolition Drive Leads To Clashes And Stone-Throwing In J&K, 6 Cops Injured

Six policemen, including an officer, were among eight injured after an anti-encroachment drive led to members of a nomadic clashing with cops in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district on Saturday. 

Bulldozers were used to demolish a mosque allegedly built on state land at Nagri village in the district. Residents of the area, largely Gujjar-Bakarwal nomads, resisted the demolition, clashing with the police and throwing stones at them.

Hundreds of police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in the area. 

While the Gujjar-Bakarwals have pointed to earlier incidents and accused the district administration of selectively targeting their places of worship, an official said the demolition was part of a routine drive. 

“Failure to abide by notices to stop unauthorised construction prompted the action. Notices were served twice earlier, but work continued illegally. Our action against illegal encroachers is a routine drive. We urge the civil society not to misinterpret this issue. It’s our collective responsibility to combat the menace of illegal constructions,” the official was quoted as saying by news agency PTI. 

Condemning the demolition, the National Conference has said that the drive is aimed at polarisation ahead of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which are supposed to be held before the end of September, as per a Supreme Court order.

“The JKNC strongly advises the administration against targeting any religious, caste, or community group. The selective targeting of masjids raises serious concerns about possible polarisation before elections”

Urging people to maintain calm, the party has requested the Union Territory’s Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, to initiate a thorough investigation into the incident.

In a post on X, Syed Altaf Bukhari, President of J&K Apni Party, warned that the incident “threatens the peaceful environment in Jammu and Kashmir” during the Amarnath pilgrimage. 

“I warn the administration to desist from such acts against any religion, caste, or creed,” he wrote. 

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