Lifting the ban on outsiders purchasing land in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre on Monday notified a new law allowing residents of any part of India to purchase non-agriculture land in the Union Territory (UT).
A notification to this effect was issued by the Home Ministry with a view to integrate J&K with the rest of the country.
However, the move has been strongly criticised by the opposition parties, including the National Conference (NC), PDP, Congress and CPI(M).
The gazette notification omitted the phrase “permanent resident of the state” from Section 17 of the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act, which deals with the disposal of land in the Union Territory, and declared that urban and immovable property in J&K can now be purchased by residents of any part of the country.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said that the new law does not apply to 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,” he told reporters in Srinagar.
“The industrial areas that we have defined ~ we want that like the rest of the country, industries too come here so that Jammu and Kashmir also develops and employment is generated,” he said.
“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 and transfer of agricultural land has been made easier. J&K is now up for sale and poorer small land holding owners will suffer,” former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted.
“Interesting that the Centre waited till the elections to the LAHDC had concluded & the BJP had won a majority before putting Ladakh up for sale.
This is what Ladakhis got for trusting the assurances of BJP,” he added. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti tweeted; “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.” CPI(M) leader, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami described the Centre’s action as “a design to disempower the people of J&K further and put their land on sale. It is daylight robbery of land in the name of integration, development and security.”
The J&K Congress Committee rejected the move and called it “another betrayal”.