National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday criticised the Centre for not allowing political parties in the region to stage protests against the new land laws, PTI reported. Abdullah asked the Centre if it wanted the political parties in Kashmir to quit mainstream politics.
Abdullah asked why Kashmir could not have land laws like certain other states. “There are many states like Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland and union territories where no Indian can go and buy land even today,” Abdullah said during his address at the National Conference headquarters in Srinagar.
He added: “Why is it only us who become anti-national when we talk of these laws? Why are there no media debates when similar voices [for special provisions] are raised from other states?”
Abdullah said that politicians in Kashmir were not fighting for power but their identity. “Other than a piece of land, what is left with us to give to our children,” he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. “The government of India wants to snatch from us our land and expects us to remain silent. How will we face our future generations for whom we only leave a piece of land and nothing else”.
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The National Conference leader spoke about how members of the Peoples Democratic Party were not allowed to protest against the land laws. “Today [Thursday], there was a peaceful protest against the new land laws but it was not allowed,” he said, according to PTI. “Are we wrong in seeking our right within the Constitution and peacefully?”
Abdullah added: “What do the Delhiwallas [the Centre] want? Do they want us to leave the mainstream? We are battling to save our identity and land.”
Several members of the PDP were detained on Thursday for their rally against the land laws, News18 reported. The police also refused to allow PDP President Mehbooba Mufti to meet them.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had on Tuesday notified new land laws for Jammu and Kashmir. The amended laws allow 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 decision was strongly opposed by political leaders in Kashmir.
Under the Gupkar Declaration, regional parties have resolved to protect Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status and fight against any move to dilute it. The parties in the alliance include the National Conference, PDP, People’s Conference, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement and the Awami National Conference.