Lifting the barrier on the purchase of non-agricultural land, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday notified the new land laws for the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir triggering widespread condemnation from various Kashmir-based political parties who termed it as a huge betrayal and step towards putting “J&K up for sale”.
Significantly, the new land laws were notified on the same day when the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir had acceded with the dominion of India on October 26, 1947.
As per the new notification, the Centre has set no precondition like the requirement of Permanent Resident Certificate or Domicile Certificate on the purchase of land in Jammu & 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 & 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 & Kashmir.
Responding to the negative campaign spearheaded by the vested interests, including leaders of different Kashmir based political parties, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha swiftly 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 come so that Jammu & Kashmir also develops 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.
As per the Gazette notification, 12 State laws have been repealed and 26 others have been adapted with changes or substitutes.
Those completely repealed include the Jammu and Kashmir Alienation of Land Act, 1995, the Jammu and Kashmir Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, the Jammu and Kashmir Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1956, and the Jammu and Kashmir Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1962.
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.
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.
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.
Reacting sharply to the move, Peoples Democratic Party Chief Mehbooba Mufti also posted a series of tweets to vent her ire. In her first tweet Mehbooba mufti wrote, “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” . In her second tweet she said, “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”.
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.
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, it further says.
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.
Labeling it as a huge betrayal, 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 in to two Union Territories and granting such rights to non- state subjects.
Wednesday, 28 October 2020 | Mohit Kandhari | Jammu