J-K parties slam changes in land laws, say UT has been put up for sale

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Srinagar, Oct 27 (PTI) The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, an amalgam of various mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir including the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Tuesday condemned the amendments to land laws to allow people from outside the Union Territory to buy land there, and pledged to fight it on all fronts.

Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari also reiterated his party's position on the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir along with comprehensive domicile rights on land and jobs for its residents and said it would take up its reservations before the top leadership in the country after going through the notification.

In a gazette notification, the Centre has omitted the phrase 'permanent resident of the state' from Section 17 of the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act that deals with disposal of the land in the union territory, paving the way for people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land in JK and Ladakh, over a year after the nullification of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution.

Reacting to the development, the National Conference said the latest move by the Centre has put up 'Jammu and Kashmir on sale'.

NC vice president Omar Abdullah slammed the new land laws notified by the government for JK and Ladakh and said the newly introduced JK Development Act, which has come into force with immediate effect, was 'hostile to the interests of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh'.

He said that with these new laws, '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 JK and Ladakh.' He accused the BJP of indulging in the opportunistic politics and that the issuance of the amended land rules notification smacks of its cheap politics and deceit.

'Interestingly the Centre waited till the elections to LAHDC had concluded and the BJP had won a majority before putting Ladakh also up for sale. This is what Ladakhis got for trusting the assurances of the BJP,' he said.

'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 JK 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 governments from time to time,' he said, adding that such measures only reveal that it is not the people's aspirations which matters to the ruling dispensation in New Delhi, it is rather the land which they want to hold on and are interested in.

Reacting to the development, People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) spokesperson Sajad Lone said, 'The amendment stripped the permanent residents of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh of exclusive right to acquire and hold immovable property in the state -- now unconstitutionally divided into two Union Territories and granting such rights to non State Subjects.' Terming the Ministry of Home Affairs order as a 'huge betrayal', Lone said, 'This 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.' 'The repeal of big estates abolition act -- the first ever agrarian reform in the subcontinent -- is an insult to the sacrifices of thousands of freedom fighters and farmers who fought against an autocratic and oppressive rule and a crude attempt to rewrite history,' he said.

The PAGD spokesperson said the order made in exercise of powers under the Reorganisation Act, 2019 is yet another 'brazen violation' of the principle of constitutional proprietary of fundamental importance to a constitutional democracy at a time the matter was pending before the Supreme Court.

Lone said the 'unconstitutional measure' is clearly designed as an attempt to preempt the outcome of the challenge before the Supreme Court.

'The assault on exclusive property rights apart, changes in urban development laws and creation of Security Zones are bound to prejudicially affect the environment and ecosystem in environmentally fragile regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh in utter disregard of grave environmental concerns,' he added.

The PADG comprises the National Conference, the PDP, CPI(M), CPI, People's Conference, Awami National Conference and the People's Movement.

CPM leader M Y Tarigami said it was 'a design to disempower the people of Jammu and Kashmir further and to put their land on sale for corporations.' 'It is daylight robbery of land in the name of integration, development and security,' he added.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said it was yet another step to disenfranchise the people of Jammu and Kashmir. 'Yet another step thats part of GOI’s nefarious designs to disempower and disenfranchise people of JK. From the unconstitutional scrapping of Article 370 to facilitating loot of our natural resources & finally putting land in JK up for sale,' she tweeted.

In a separate statement, JKAP president Bukhari said his party would go through the gazette notification with regard to land rights in JK and would take up its reservations before the top leadership of the country. PTI TAS MIJ SKL SMN SMN