Bharatiya Janata Party MLA and minister in the Jammu and Kashmir state government, Abdul Gani Kohli, on Wednesday opposed the proposed eviction of 204 Gujjar families to make way for the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Jammu.

“I am against eviction of Gujjars,” he told local news agency Kashmir News Service. “It is a humanitarian issue. Where will they go if they are evicted from there?”

Kohli’s statement comes a day after fellow Gujjar leader and People’s Democratic Party MLA and minister Choudhary Zulfkar Ali, staged a walkout from the Cabinet meeting where he had raised the issue of eviction. “After I and Zulfkar raised the issue, the chief minister said there is a proposal for their rehabilitation. We want that they should be properly rehabilitated and a policy should be framed for Gujjars,” said Kohli.

Valley-based newspaper Greater Kashmir on Wednesday reported that Ali took “strong exception to remarks made by Vijaypur MLA and BJP minister Chandra Prakash Ganga, who was supported by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh. Ganga had said that Gujjar families should be evicted from Samba to start work on construction of the AIIMS.

There are 204 Gujjar families living on state land in the Vijaypur tehsil of Samba district. They face eviction as their land has been demarcated for the construction of the hospital. The settlers complain of discrimination and inadequate compensation for relocation.

Meanwhile, National Conference MLA from central Kashmir’s Kangan, Mian Altaf also asked the government to meet the demands of the Gujjars. Kohli, Ali and Altaf are all Gujjar leaders from the state.