The CPI(M) on Tuesday described the amendments to land laws in Jammu and Kashmir to allow people from outside the Union Territory to buy land there as "highway robbery" and alleged that this was a way to "loot" its natural resources.
In a gazette notification, the Centre has omitted the phrase "permanent resident of the state" from Section 17 of the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act that deals with disposal of the land in the union territory, paving the way for people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land in JK and Ladakh, over a year after the nullification of provisions under Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution.
"This is highway robbery. The loot of J&K's resources and beautiful landscape. Having destroyed all people's democratic structures, will the next step be forcible land acquisition to hand over to cronies and fatten the purses of the ruling party at the centre? This cannot be allowed," CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in a tweet.
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 non-residents 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.
M Y Tarigami, a central committee member of the CPI(M) and a leader from Jammu and Kashmir, tweeted, "This is a design to disempower the people of J&K further and put their land on sale for corporations. It is daylight robbery of land in the name of integration, development and security."