Congress rejects new land laws in Jammu and Kashmir

Congress rejects new land laws in Jammu and Kashmir

The Centre had on Tuesday cleared the decks for people from across the country to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir by amending several laws

JKPCC chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir. Credit: DH File Photo

The Congress treads a cautious line on issues related to Jammu and Kashmir as it rejected the changes to the law that allowed outsiders to purchase urban and non-agriculture land in the newly carved out Union Territory.

The party appears to have accepted the reading down of Article 370 and 35A, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir, as fait-accompli and focused its energies on opposing the Union Territory status to J&K.

“There are three compartments – the revocation of Article 370, the statehood versus UT issue and the land issue. The Congress has opposed the last two categorically,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said here.

Read: Centre amends laws, now any Indian citizen can buy land in Jammu and Kashmir

Rejecting the new land laws for the union territory of J&K, Singhvi said it does not have the minimal safeguards on ownership of land found in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and northeastern states.

“We are opposed to it because it does not follow elementary canons of participatory democracy. What is the degree of dialogue, exchange of views, meetings of mind or attempts… the answer is zero,” the Rajya Sabha member said.

Singhvi said the government has made an exception for ownership of agricultural land but has left the option open, indicating that there was a possibility of relaxing the provision in the future.

The Congress Working Committee adopted a resolution at a meeting on August 6 last year stating that Article 370 deserved to be honoured until it was amended, after consultation with all sections of the people, and strictly in accordance with the Constitution of India.

The Congress had also stayed away from the Gupkar Alliance, a conglomeration of political parties of J&K, which pledged to fight for the protection of special status for J&K and its statehood.

The party leaders believe that any misstep on Article 370 could prove disastrous for the party nationally, particularly in the ongoing Bihar elections, where the Opposition is trying to focus the campaign on local issues.