JAMMU & KASHMIR. Shopian: At least 18 persons including five journalists were wounded on Monday after the forest eviction drive launched by the Forest department turned violent. The incident took place in the upper reaches of Zampathri area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
The eviction drive turned violent after the Gujjar community resisted the drive.
People from Gujjar community said that they weren’t the permanent residents of the area, saying that they have been erecting temporary sheds here for living to graze the cattle.
“However, without serving any notice, the forest department officials reached the spot and started an eviction drive. We have insisted to the officials that we leave the area every year and there was no need to evict us,” they said.
According to the reports, the forest officials started beating them with whatever came in their way and injured three among them including two women. Criticizing the behaviour of the officials, the people said that instead of extending a helping hand to the people amid the pandemic, the admin was pushing them to the wall.
However, forest officials claimed that once the eviction drive was started, the people from the whole Gujjar community assembled and made officials as well as journalists hostage in a fenced area of PHE. a
Meanwhile, officials have said that at least 10 forest employees and five journalists were injured during the resistance by the Gujjar community.
The journalists who received minor injuries include Aijaz Ahmad Dar (Zee news), Irshad Ahmad (News18), Shahid Tak (ETV Bharat), Nazir Wani (Punjab Kesari) and Firdous Ahmad (News Nation).
District Forest Officer (DFO), Mohammad Ayoub said that the people from the Gujjar community attacked them during a routine eviction drive.
He said that the community was already asked to prove their claim if the land belonged to them. They failed to prove the claim and thus he eviction drive started.
Ayoub said that besides officials, the journalists who had come to cover the drive were taken hostage and were rescued by the timely action of the police.
He added that they have sought an FIR against the community in this regard.