Now anyone can buy land in J&K with amended laws



The Centre has paved the way for people from other states to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir by amending an array of land laws after the nullification of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution more than a year ago.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday evening, in a gazette notification in Hindi and English, announced that several changes have been made to land laws, including allowing the use of agricultural land for setting up facilities of public purpose.

This move had drawn a number of criticisms from various political parties and leaders in J&K barring the BJP. The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) -- an amalgamation of seven mainstream parties in Jammu & Kashmir had termed the move as a "deliberate attempt to usurp the rights of the people of the erstwhile state".

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The Centre has omitted the phrase "permanent resident of the state" from Section 17 of the law under the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act that deals with disposal of land in the Union Territory.

The PAGD condemned the repeal of J&K Land Laws saying that it strips the permanent residents of J&K and Ladakh of their exclusive right to acquire and hold immovable property and vowed to fight these on all fronts.

"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 the poorer small landholding owners will suffer," National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said it was a step to "disenfranchise" the people of Jammu and Kashmir. "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 and finally putting land in J&K up for sale," she 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 reinforce the need of people of all three provinces of J&K to fight unitedly,” she alleged.

Before the repeal of Article 370 and Article 35-A in August last year, non-residents could not buy any immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the fresh changes have paved the way for any citizen to buy land in the Union Territory.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha told reporters that the amendments did not allow the transfer of agricultural land to non-agriculturists. However, there are several exemptions in the Act which enable the transfer of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, including setting up of educational or health care facilities.

People’s Conference chairman and former minister Sajad Gani Lone, who is the spokesman of PAGD, said the MHA order was a “huge betrayal” and a “massive assault” on the rights of the people of J&K and Ladakh besides being “grossly unconstitutional”.

On Monday evening, the MHA repealed twelve out of J&K’s 26 land laws and adopted changes or substitutes with the rest.