Kuldeep Raj Gupta picks up stone protesting razing of sons’ shops

The shops owned by Gupta’s sons Vijay and Dheeraj were among 73 structures, including 24 shops and 59 extensions, to be demolished during the anti-encroachment drive.

Senior BJP leader and minister in the ruling PDP-BJP coalition in Jammu and Kashmir, Kuldeep Raj Gupta, on Sunday picked up a stone, apparently to attack police and officials of the state government, after two shops owned by his sons were demolished during an anti-encroachment drive in Rajouri town. Gupta has, however, claimed he picked up the stone to hit himself in wake of the huge loss due to the demolition.
Vice-Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir State Advisory Board for Development of Pahari Speaking People, Gupta holds the status of a minister of state in the Jammu and Kashmir government.
The shops owned by Gupta’s sons Vijay and Dheeraj were among 73 structures, including 24 shops and 59 extensions, to be demolished during the anti-encroachment drive against structures that allegedly encroached upon a busy road and violated Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Ribbon Development Act. The exercise was led by Tehsildar Rajouri and Chief Executive Officer of the Municipal Committee.
Sources said that on being informed about the demolition of shops owned by his sons, Gupta reached the spot and started arguing with the officials. As the anti-encroachment drive continued, he picked up a stone to attack them, but policemen accompanying the officials intervened.
Rajouri Deputy Commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, who reached the spot with SSP Yougal Manhas to inspect the drive, pacified Gupta.
When contacted, Gupta said he had picked up the stone to hit himself. Saying that the loss due to the demolition was about Rs 40-50 lakh, he said, “I was so perturbed that I picked up a stone to hit my own head. However, people with vested interests projected it as if I wanted to throw stones at the police’’.
He accused the administration of demolishing his sons’ shops in violation of law, saying that 408 sq ft of land on the roadside had been leased out to them by the administration during the Governor’s rule in 1990. A year later, they raised two khokhas on that land and in 1997, the revenue department entered its mutation in their favour, he added.
“I was at the residence of Deputy Commissioner. When I asked him about the demolition drive, he assured that my sons’ shops will not be touched,’’ Gupta said. The drive follows instructions from CM Mehbooba Mufti during her public outreach programme on December 23 wherein several deputations from Rajouri town approached her demanding removal of encroachment.