"Brazen Loot And Sale": Push For J&K Land Sale Draws Sharp Criticism

Opposition parties have urged the government to focus on job creation rather than investment or selling land, given J&K is facing a massive unemployment crisis

File photo
File photo

A first-of-its-kind real estate summit in Jammu organized by the centre and the J&K administration to encourage people from across the country to buy land, or a second home, in Jammu and Kashmir, has drawn sharp political reactions in the erstwhile state.

Outsiders - those not classified as 'permanent residents' - had earlier been barred from purchasing or owning land but this was changed after the centre scrapped Article 370 in August 2019, thereby removing special status for J&K.

Local protesters and regional political parties have accused the centre of "putting J&K up for sale".

J&Ks special status was illegally revoked to dehumanise, dispossess & disempower the only muslim majority state in India.GOIs brazen loot & sale of our resources shows that the sole motive is to annihilate our identity & change the demography

Organised jointly by the Union Ministry for Housing and Urban Affairs and the J&K administration, the Jammu and Kashmir Real Estate Summit (2021) was held today. Officials said 39 MoUs, or Memorandum of Understandings, were signed; 19 dealt with the construction of residential homes.

Calling it a "historical transformation in J&K", the government said it had changed laws to allow external investment in J&K - including the purchase of non-agricultural land.

Lt Governor Sinha has said a similar event will be held in Srinagar in May next year.

"Under the new J&K Development Act, the term 'being a permanent resident of the State' as a criteria has been omitted, paving the way for investors outside J&K to invest," the agenda for today's conference said.

"As a result, any citizen of India can buy non-agriculture land in J&K," it said.

Last week the J&K administration, headed by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, changed land use laws and allowed re-classifying agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. The decision triggered strong criticism from regional parties, who said the land would be used to settle non-locals.

Recently the centre told Parliament that only seven plots of land had been purchased in J&K following the scrapping of special status. Allowing people from outside J&K to buy land in the UT was one of the major talking points for the BJP and the centre, but so far that doesn't seem to be the case