On Tuesday, 26th Oct, by amending several laws, the Centre cleared the tracks for people from across the country to purchase land in Jammu and Kashmir, a step that mainstream political parties in the union territory said was analogous to putting the former state up for sale.
Revised Land Laws in Jammu and Kashmir
It was announced that the amendments, which were adopted more than a year after the Centre had nullified Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution, would open the floodgates of growth and mark the beginning of a new period of progress and prosperity in the territory of the Union.
The Ministry of Home Affairs made several amendments to the land laws in a 111-page notice in Hindi and English, including one that makes the use of agricultural land for the establishment of facilities for public purposes.
In the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act, which deals with land disposal, the most important amendment was made, with the Centre highlighting from Section 17 of the law the term "permanent resident of the state."
Before the revocation of Article 370 and Article 35-A in August last year, no immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir could be purchased by non-residents. The recent changes have opened the way for non-residents to purchase land in the territories of the union.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha of Jammu and Kashmir told that the amendments do not provide for the transfer of agricultural land to non-farmers. However, the Act allows for a range of exemptions enabling the conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, including the establishment of educational and health facilities.
The amendments opened the floodgates for people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land, former Jammu and Kashmir Attorney General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri added. There is now no legal bar for foreigners to buy land here.
Proposed Changes in J&K Land Laws
National Conference Vice President and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said this was unacceptable since the citizens of the union territory were not even given basic rights that are available in other states.
Noting that even basic residence requirements were withdrawn with the apparent intention of changing the essence of the area, the Centre has absolutely put JK on sale. The entire procedure should have been carried out with the permission of the citizens of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh and stated," We are still a federal system and it is not a dictatorship in a federal structure".
The notification has modified the Right to Equal Compensation and Accountability in Land Acquisition, Reconstruction and Resettlement Act, 2013, with Section 30 and Part VII of the State Land Acquisition Act, 1990.
Senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta stated, The land law amendments would mark the beginning of a new age of growth in the Union Territory, with new avenues waiting for citizens to take part in this new journey of progress and prosperity promised to one and all by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The changes in laws would open the development floodgates in Jammu and Kashmir, something that the area has been delayed in the past 70 years because of the myopic and divisive policies of the regional mainstream parties that controlled the former state at different points of time.