The Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday notified new land laws for the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir. This makes it possible for any Indian citizen to buy land in the region, sparking fears among locals as it was earlier meant only for permanent residents under Article 370.
The central government is likely to notify a set of separate land laws for Ladakh soon, according to The Hindu.
The Narendra Modi government’s removal of special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019 opened the door for outsiders to buy land and property, get government jobs and attend institutes of higher education. The law had empowered the government of the former state to define “permanent residents” of Jammu and Kashmir and reserve certain rights for them.
In its order, the home ministry said the new laws will be called the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, 2020. It added that it will come into effect immediately.
The Centre said the “permanent resident of the state” clause has been omitted now. Under this, 12 state laws have been repealed and 26 others have been adapted with changes or substitutes, according to ANI. Those completely repealed include the Jammu and Kashmir Alienation of Land Act, 1995, the Jammu and Kashmir Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, the Jammu and Kashmir Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1956, and the Jammu and Kashmir Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1962.
The notification stated that the government may, on the written request of an Army officer not below the rank of Corp Commander, declare an area “strategic” within a local area. This can only be for the direct operational and training requirements of the Armed forces, which may be excluded from the operation of this Act and rules and regulations made there under in the manner and to the extent.
Opposition leaders in the state have criticised the Centre for rewriting the land laws, with Omar Abdullah claiming the government could not tolerate even one Muslim-majority state in India.