People from outside J&K can now buy land in the UT

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

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha told reporters that the amendments did not allow the transfer of agricultural land to non-agriculturists

Former Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri said the amendments have opened floodgates for people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy lands. Credit: AFP

In a significant move, the Centre has notified fresh land laws for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh after which any outsider can buy land in the twin union territories (UTs).

After the new laws, neither a permanent resident certificate nor a domicile certificate is needed to buy land in J&K.

In a gazette notification, the Union Home Ministry notified the new land laws on Monday by omitting any precondition on purchase of land in the UTs.  The MHA in its release stated that the order 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.

Under the new laws, the government can also transfer land in favour of a person or an institution for the purpose of promotion of healthcare or educational institutions.

Before the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 was revoked in August last year, non-residents could not buy any immovable property in the erstwhile state. The fresh laws have sparked fears among locals that this will dilute the erstwhile state’s demography.

Reacting to new land laws by the Center, J&K’s former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “Yet another step that's part of GOI’s nefarious designs to disempower & disenfranchise people of J&K. From the unconstitutional scrapping of Article 370 to facilitating loot of our natural resources & finally putting land in J&K up for sale (sic).”

“After failing on all fronts to provide roti & rozgar to people, BJP is creating such laws to whet the appetite of a gullible electorate. Such brazen measures reinforce the need of people of all three provinces of J&K to fight unitedly,” she advocated.

Another former CM and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah in a sarcastic comment claimed that J&K is “now up for sale.”

“Unacceptable amendments to the land ownership laws of J&K. Even the tokenism of domicile has been done away with when purchasing non-agricultural land & transfer of agricultural land has been made easier. J&K is now up for sale & the poorer small landholding owners will suffer,” he tweeted.

Even the newly launched party, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP), which is believed to be a proxy of the BJP, said that any laws which do not safeguard the interests and rights of people of J&K would be unacceptable to it.

“Better would have been such laws of urgent nature should have been left to or dealt with in consultation with the duly elected government in Jammu and Kashmir,” JKAP president Altaf Bukhari said in a statement.

However, J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha clarified that the new land laws being introduced in the UT will not impact agricultural land. “Agricultural land has been kept reserved for farmers; no outsider will come on those lands,” he told reporters.

“The industrial areas that have been defined, we want that like rest of the country, here too industries come so that Jammu & Kashmir also develops and employment is generated,” the LG added.

Earlier in April, the government of India had spelt out the domicile laws for the J&K which said a person who has resided in the UT for a period of 15 years or has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Class 10th and 12th examination in a school within the region shall be deemed to be the domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir. It also included the children of the central government officials, who have served in J&K for a period of ten years.