Kuldeep Raj Gupta, a senior BJP leader from Jammu and Kashmir, picked up a stone to hit the police and the government officials on Sunday after the officials demolished two shops owned by his sons in Rajouri town. However, the minister asserted that he had picked up the stone to hit himself in wake of the loss incurred by him in the anti-encroachment demolition drive.
The officials demolished 73 structures on Sunday, including 24 shops and 59 extensions, in the drive which was carried out against buildings and structures that allegedly encroached upon a busy road and violated Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Ribbon Development Act. The drive was carried out following instructions from the Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, during her public outreach programme on December 23, 2017 wherein she was approached by several deputations from Rajouri town for the removal of encroachment. The Chief Executive Officer of the Municipal Committee and Tehsildar Rajouri headed the exercise.
Kuldeep Raj Gupta, a minister of state in the Jammu and Kashmir government, is also the Vice-Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir State Advisory Board for Development of Pahari Speaking People. According to The Indian Express, Gupta reached the spot immediately after being informed about the demolition and had started to argue with the officials. When the officials did not halt the demolition, Gupta picked up a stone to hit them but soon, the policemen intervened.
Gupta was later pacified by the Deputy Commissioner of Rajouri, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, who had also reached the spot along with SSP Yougal Manhas. According to IE, Gupta said that the loss incurred by him in the demolition of the shops amounted to nearly Rs 40-50 lakh and he was so disturbed that he had picked up the stone to hit his own head. He claimed that the idea of him picking up stones to throw at the police was projected by people with ‘vested interests’.
The minister claimed that the land was leased out to him the state government during the Governor’s rule in 1990. Accusing the administration of the demolition, he said that a year after the lease, his sons had raised two khokhas on the land and in 1997, the revenue department entered its mutation in their favour. Gupta also said he had visited the Deputy Commissioner’s residence and was assured by him that his sons’ shops would not be touched in the demolition drive.