The newly-formed People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) on Tuesday condemned the central government’s move to grant permission to all Indians to buy property in Jammu and Kashmir and has vowed to fight against it.
In a significant development, the Ministry of Home Affairs has made amendments to the J&K Land Revenue Act, 1996 that allows any Indian citizen to buy land in J&K now, with the exception of agricultural land.
The amendment to J&K land laws has been condemned by several Kashmiri leaders, including NC vice-president Omar Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti.
The PAGD, which includes PDP, NC, People’s Conference, People’s Movement, CPI(M) and Awami National Conference (ANC), has accused the Centre of launching a “massive assault on the rights of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh”.
Terming the MHA order a huge betrayal, SPAGD spokesperson Sajad Lone said, “This [new land law] is a massive assault on the rights of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and grossly unconstitutional. The alliance has vowed to fight the anti-Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh measure on all fronts.”
In an exclusive interview with India Today TV, NC leader Omar Abdullah said that the new land laws were unacceptable.
“Unacceptable amendments to the land ownership laws of J&K. Even the tokenism of domicile has been done away with when purchasing non-agricultural land & transfer of agricultural land has been made easier. J&K is now up for sale and the poorer small landholding owners will suffer,” Omar Abdullah later said in a tweet.
Recently released from 14-month-long custody, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti also hit out at the saffron party.
In a series of tweets, she said, “Yet another step that’s part of GOI’s nefarious designs to disempower and disenfranchise people of J&K. From the unconstitutional scrapping of Article 370 to facilitating loot of our natural resources and finally putting land in J&K up for sale.”
In another tweet, she said, “After failing on all fronts to provide roti and 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.”
New J&K land laws
In a 111-page notification, the MHA has further amended the domicile law. Now the “spouse of a domicile shall also be deemed to be a domicile”. This earlier pertained to the children of the central government officials posted in J&K for a total period of 10 years.
A new body – the Jammu and Kashmir Industrial Development Corporation has been set up. If the corporation is unable to acquire land, the government could invoke the provision of the Right to Fair Compensation Act, and acquire the land on behalf of the corporation for “public purpose”.
Under the amended J&K Development Act, 1970, the government may, 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 the armed forces.