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J&K parties condemn changes in land laws, say UT has been ‘put up for sale’

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PAGD vows to fight it out on all fronts

Srinagar: Condemning the amendments to land laws to allow people from outside the Union Territory to buy land in J&K, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, an amalgam of various mainstream parties here vowed to fight the Centre’s latest move on all fronts.

National Conference said the Centre has put up “Jammu and Kashmir on sale”, Peoples Democratic Party termed it “yet another step to disenfranchise the people” of the Union Territory while CPI(M) described it “highway robbery”.

People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) strongly condemned the repeal of J&K Land Laws, saying it has 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.”

Terming the Union Home Ministry’s order as a “huge betrayal”, the PAGD spokesperson Sajad Gani Lone said that 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, he said.

“The repeal of Big Estates Abolition Act – first-ever agrarian reform in 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. The order made in exercise of powers under Reorganisation Act, 2019, it is stated, is yet another brazen violation of the principal of constitutional proprietary of fundamental importance to a constitutional democracy,” he added.

Lone said that with a serious challenge to the 5th August 2019 decisions before the top Constitutional court of the country and the vires of Reorganisation Act under judicial scrutiny, the Central government is under an obligation to desist from such acts, out of respect for the apex court.

“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 is bound to prejudicially affect environment and ecosystem in environmentally fragile regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh in utter disregard of grave environmental concerns” he added.

Reacting to the development, the National Conference (NC) said the latest move by the Centre has put up “Jammu and Kashmir on sale”.

Pertinently, the PADG comprises the NC, the PDP, CPI(M), CPI, People’s Conference, Awami National Conference and the People’s Movement.

NC vice-president Omar Abdullah slammed the new land laws notified by the government for J&K and Ladakh and said the newly introduced J&K 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.

The CPI(M) described the amendments to land laws in J&K as “highway robbery” and alleged that this was a way to “loot” its natural resources.

“This is highway robbery. The loot of J&K’s resources and beautiful landscape. Having destroyed all people’s democratic structures, will the next step be forcible land acquisition to hand over to cronies and fatten the purses of the ruling party at centre? This cannot be allowed,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in a tweet.

CPI(M) 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 that’s 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 another tweet, she said that this issue need to be fought by all three provinces jointly- Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

“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 reinforces the need of people of all three provinces of J&K to fight unitedly,” Mufti wrote.

She added the BJP government had failed to provide the food and employment to the people of J&K and were now switching to the other tactics.

J&K unit of Congress also rejected the new land laws saying it is “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 bag and people especially youth feel cheated.”

In a press release, Congress said “earlier the government opened the doors of jobs to outsiders through three provisions in the domicile law. The outside youth could get domicile through those provisions and become eligible for any job in UT.

“Now the apprehensions have come true and BJP government has facilitated the sale of land to all non -J&K residents, at the cost of interests, culture and identity of people in the erstwhile Dogra state, already reduced to a UT against wishes of all people,” it said.

The Congress party always sought and struggled for restoration of statehood with constitutional safeguards for lands and jobs and it will intensify its struggle as majority of people of J&K are opposed to such moves of BJP government, the press release said.

Apni Party president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari 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.

“From day one our party’s stand has been very clear on these vital issues. People should understand that our constitutionally guaranteed rights have been taken away long back and whatever was left, was snatched on August 05, 2019 when Articles 370 and 35-A were abrogated. However, Apni Party will continue its fight for the rights of people and will resist any move that is against the interests of residents of J&K,” he added.

Bukhari said that any laws which do not safeguard the interests and rights of people of J&K would be unacceptable to the Apni Party.

“Better would have been such laws of urgent nature should have been left to or dealt with in consultation with the duly elected government in Jammu and Kashmir,” he remarked.

He said that the Apni Party resisted the hostile provisions of domicile law on jobs for the residents of J&K and is still pursuing to remove the anomalies like prerequisite tenure for availing these rights. “We pledge to continue with our fight for restoration of Statehood and domicile laws on land that would ensure safeguards for the rights of residents of J&K like many states in the country,” he added.

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