Every family in J&K to get a unique alpha-numeric number code
J&K UT Lt Governor Manoj Sinha’s administration has done exceedingly well to plan to create an “authentic database of all families in the UT with each of them having a unique alpha-numeric number code”. Actually, the whole scheme concerning the said database was made public at the recent national conference on e-governance at Katra in the Reasi district. Lt Governor Sinha and Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, released the Digital J&K Vision Document. It was this vision document that unveiled the government plan to create an “authentic, verified and reliable database of all families” of the UT.
How J&K’s proposed Family ID will work
Reflecting on the scheme, the concerned officials said that the “objective of creating the database, which will be at par with Haryana’s ‘Parivaar Pehchaan Patra’, is that families or individuals will not have to apply to receive benefits under each individual scheme like old age pension and scholarships”. “The objective is an easy selection of eligible beneficiaries of various social welfare schemes. Each family will be provided with a unique alpha-numeric code called J&K Family ID. The data available in the family database would be used to determine eligibility through the automatic selection of beneficiaries for receiving social benefits. The database would identify each and every family in J&K and would collect the basic data of the family, provided with the consent of the family, in a digital format. Once the data in the J&K Family ID database is authenticated and verified, a beneficiary will not be required to submit any more documents to avail of a service…To thwart risks and protect sensitive and critical data, it said the J&K government plans to work on an information security policy and also envisages formulation of appropriate cyber security framework…,” the authority said.
Opposition parties decry govt plan
It was hoped that all political parties would appreciate the scheme and come forward to help the concerned authorities complete the process as early as possible so that things become easy for the eligible beneficiaries of various social welfare schemes. But it was not to be. All the Kashmiri parties – People’s Democratic Party (PDP), National Conference (NC), Indian National Congress (INC), and J&K Apni Party (JKAP) — join hands in no time and opposed with one voice to the otherwise people-centric scheme. Some of them linked the scheme with Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), despite the fact that Lt Governor Sinha had announced that the unique alpha-numeric number code had nothing to do with CAA.
The first to register its vehement opposition was PDP. Its president and protagonist of self-rule Mehbooba Mufti termed the scheme as “another surveillance tactic to tighten the iron grip on their lives” and accused the administration of viewing “Kashmiris with deep suspicion”. “The J&K administration’s plan to create a ‘unique family ID’ for residents of the Union Territory was emblematic of the widening ‘trust deficit’ after the 2019 abrogation of Article 370,” she also said.
NC, Congress, and JKAP, which like PDP, consistently indulges in competitive politics of communalism, immediately treaded the path Mehbooba Mufti charted. Pro-greater autonomy NC vice-president Omar Abdullah and the party’s chief spokesperson Tanvir Sadiq described the whole scheme as unwarranted and mischievous and said that “the proposed issuance of unique IDs to families across J&K is not needed and that the government should instead focus more on effective deliverance of existing schemes”. They asked: “Why is such an exercise needed in the first place?” and added that “there is already enough data available with the government agencies in terms of Adhaar…”
Congress, which has consistently tried to keep J&K aloof from the national mainstream, and JKAP, which vouches for a special dispensation for the UT, also expressed almost identical views. Congress even went to the extent of accusing the government of “diverting people’s attention from the real issues instead of holding Assembly elections and establishing an elected government in the UT”. It also termed the scheme a “tool of interference in the private life of the people” and expressed the view that “the whole data could be stolen”. It very conveniently overlooked what the concerned officials had said in this regard: “To thwart risks and protect sensitive and critical data, it said the J&K government plans to work on an information security policy and also envisages formulation of appropriate cyber security framework”. As for JKAP, it first opposed the stand taken by Mehbooba Mufti and termed as “negative Mehbooba Mufti’s politics”, but finally the JKAP president Altaf Bukhari also took the plunge to oppose the scheme.
The questions to be asked are:
- Why do all the Kashmiri parties, unlike the Jammu-based parties, social organizations, and civil society groups, oppose the people-centric Parivaar Pehchaan Patra?
- How could the authentic database of all families in the UT be dismissed as “another surveillance tactic to tighten the iron grip on the lives of Kashmiris”?
- Are they afraid of the fact that the said authentic database will lay bare the disparities in the population figures of the neglected and discriminated against Jammu province and the population figures of the highly developed and prosperous Kashmir Valley?
The population of Jammu province is equal to Kashmir, if not more.
There are reasons to believe that there are vested interests in Kashmir who oppose the otherwise well-conceived scheme just because they know that the population of Kashmir is not what they claim or what the fudged census figures suggest. Indeed, the authentic database, when prepared, will expose their anti-Jammu stance and also help the government to do away with some corrupt practices and ensure that only the eligible persons avail themselves of the welfare schemes.
Row over new land policy
Kashmiri Muslim leadership has not only opposed the authentic database of all families in the UT but has also been denouncing the Manoj Sinha administration for adopting the new land policy. It was on December 13, 2022, that the J&K government notified that all the outgoing lessees, except in the case of subsisting/ expired leases for residential purposes, shall immediately handover possession of the land taken on lease to the government, failing which the outgoing lessees shall be evicted.
What are the new Land Grant Rules?
The new Land Grant Rules, 2022, further stated that all leases (except the subsisting/ expired residential leases) including leases granted under the Jammu and Kashmir Land Grants Rules 1960, Notified Area (All Development Authorities set in Tourism Sector) Land Grants Rules, 2007 and leases expired or determined prior to the coming into force of these rules or issued under these rules shall not be renewed and shall stand determined.
According to the J&K Land Grant Rules, the government may for the development of the UT of J&K grant a lease of land under the provisions of these rules. The rules state that the land could be leased for education, healthcare, agriculture and allied activities, tourism, skill development, development of traditional art, craft, culture and languages, hydro-electric projects, development of stadiums, playgrounds, gymnasiums or other recreational purposes, petrol pumps, gas pipelines, LPG bottling centers, fuel reservoir, next generation clean fuel sources CNG/ CBG/ LNG/ hydrogen fuel/ low Carbon fuel/ any other clean fuel source with related activities/ services/ utilities/ infrastructures as per established norms/industry best practices, self-employment or for housing purposes of ex-servicemen, war widows, families of deprivation categories (as per latest socio-economic census), specially-abled Persons (Divyang), families of martyr (one who has sacrificed his life in the line of duty for the sake of nation), migrant workers/ building & other construction workers, rehabilitation of sufferers of natural disasters/ calamities, specific infrastructure projects for the development of infrastructure, industries, agriculture, tourism and employment generation, laying of water mains, pipes, underground cables, cause ways, underground bridges, cables, towers, poles, stay rods, stay rails for overhead cable and likewise.
New land policy in J&K not without motives: Sajad Lone
Opposing the new land policy, Kashmiri leaders, including Sajad Lone of People’s Conference (PC) and Altaf Bukhari of JKAP, said: “The J&K administration’s new land policy is ‘not without motive’ as it is an attempt at ‘othering’ Kashmiris” and described it as “draconian” and totally inhuman”. So much so, they challenged the government and declared that they “will not be allowed it to implement the new land policy”.
It’s hoped that the J&K government will reject outright the Kashmiri leadership’s senseless and motivated opposition, hold its ground firmly and implement the schemes in their entirety as conceived and explained. To go by what the vested interests in Kashmir have been saying would be only to further embolden them and undermine the authority of the state.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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