Kashmiri politicians cry foul, accuses Centre of putting ‘J&k up for sale’
Ending the seven-decade long hegemony of Kashmiri politicians, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday notified the new land laws for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir by allowing Indian citizens to purchase land after omitting the preconditions such as having the Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) in their kitty before acquiring the land.
Though the Centre had given assurances at the highest level to the leaders of different delegations in the last one year to protect the land rights when it came to notifying the land laws, same were overlooked triggering sharp reactions from several Kashmir based politicians.
As was expected the landmark decision prompted several Kashmiri politicians to say the Centre has set up ‘J&K for sale’ by allowing outsiders from Jammu and Kashmir to acquire non-agricultural land.
The MHA in its release stated that the order will be called the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, 2020.
As per the new notification circulated to the media, the Centre has set no precondition like the requirement of Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) or Domicile Certificate on the purchase of land in Jammu and Kashmir, as existed under Article 370 for the outsiders.
The MHA in its release stated that the order will be called the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, 2020. It added that it will come into effect immediately. The Centre also notified that the “permanent resident of the state” clause has been omitted now.
Before the Abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35-A in August last year, non-residents could not buy any immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir.
The notification issued by MHA also says that the government can now, on the written request of an army officer not below the rank of Corp Commander, declare an area as Strategic Area within a local area, only for direct operational and training requirements of armed forces, which may be excluded from the operation of this Act and rules and regulations made thereunder in the manner and to the extent.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Tuesday clarified that the new land laws being introduced in the Union Territory will not impact agricultural land.
The government also can allow the transfer of land in favour of a person or an institution for the purpose of promotion of healthcare or senior secondary or higher or specialised education after the new notification.
New land laws will not impact agricultural land: Lt-Gov Manoj Sinha
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Tuesday clarified that the new land laws being introduced in the Union Territory will not impact agricultural land. “I want to say this forcefully and with full responsibility that agricultural land has been kept reserved for farmers; no outsider will come on those lands. The industrial areas that we have defined, we want that like rest of the country, here too, industries coming in Jammu & Kashmir will also develop and employment is generated,” the LG said.
However, there are several exemptions in the Act which enable the transfer of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, including setting up educational or health care facilities, he added.
Centre setting ‘J&K up for sale’: Omar Abdullah
Slamming the Centre’s move, former Chief Minister and National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah said that the amendments to the land ownership law has put J&K up for sale. “With these new laws in place tokenism of the domicile certificate has been done away with as purchasing non-agricultural land has been made easier. These new laws are unacceptable to people of J&K, Ladakh,” he said.
He further added that the BJP remains unchallenged in the opportunistic politics and that the issuance of the amended land rules notification smacks of its cheap politics and deceit. “The new laws are a consequence of the measures undertaken by the GOI on 5th of August without democratic bearings and much to the resentment and anger of the region’s populace. The measure reflects the wanton breach of trust of the people of J&K by a dispensation which is brewing with abhorrence for the diversity of the country and the democracy. The measures are also part of a larger design aimed to destroy the local, distinctive cultural identity of Kashmir thereby giving a ditch to the successive promises made by the successive Central Government from time to time,” he said adding, “Such measures reveal that it is not the people’s aspirations which matters to the ruling dispensation at New Delhi, it is rather the land which they want to hold on and are interested in.”
Attempt to disempower & disenfranchise people of J&K: Mehbooba
Peoples Democratic Party Chief Mehbooba Mufti in her first reaction said the new land laws clearly reveal it is an attempt to disempower and disenfranchise people of Jammu and Kashmir. After the Gazette notification was circulated in the media Mehbooba tweeted “After failing on all fronts to provide roti & rozgar to people, BJP is creating such laws to whet the appetite of a gullible electorate. Such brazen measures reinforce the need of people of all three provinces of J&K to fight unitedly.” She further added, “Yet another step that’s part of GOI’s nefarious designs to disempower & disenfranchise people of J&K. From the unconstitutional scrapping of Article 370 to facilitating loot of our natural resources & finally putting land in J&K up for sale.”
After failing on all fronts to provide roti & rozgar to people, BJP is creating such laws to whet the appetite of a gullible electorate. Such brazen measures reinforces the need of people of all three provinces of J&K to fight unitedly .
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) October 27, 2020
Betrayal of people of J&K: JKPCC
Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) also rejected the new land laws whereby anyone can purchase land in Jammu and Kashmir which is against the repeated assurances to the contrary by the BJP.
Bukhari said the party will go through the gazette notification issued by the Union Government today with regard to land rights in J&K and would take up its reservations before the top leadership in the country.
In a written statement JKPCC has termed it another betrayal of BJP with people of J&K, as time and again the people were assured that their right to land and jobs shall be protected at all costs, even post 370 abrogation. Now the cat is out of the bag and people especially youth feel cheated.
Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Tuesday reiterated his Party’s position vis-à-vis restoration of Statehood to J&K along with comprehensive domicile rights on land and jobs for its residents. Bukhari said the party will go through the gazette notification issued by the Union Government today with regard to land rights in J&K and would take up its reservations before the top leadership in the country.
On the other hand, the Spokesman of the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, Sajjad Lone also condemned the decision to repeal the J&K Land laws thereby stripping the Permanent Residents of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh of exclusive rights to acquire and hold immovable property in the state – now unconstitutionally divided into two Union territories and granting such rights to non-state subjects.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.