The Valley is up for sale, says Omar Abdullah

Srinagar: In yet another step aimed at integrating Kashmir with the rest of the country and bringing about uniformity in land laws, the Centre has paved the way for ‘outsiders’ to buy land in the Union territory.

Until now, only ‘permanent residents’ of the state were allowed to engage in land transactions.

Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, however, clarified that the new law does not apply to agricultural land, which is reserved for farmers. No outsiders can will come and occupy those lands.

But, there are several exemptions to the new law which will facilitate transfer of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, including setting up of educational or health care facilities.

The amendments in the land laws has come more than a year after the nullification of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution. Former Advocate General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri said the amendments will open floodgates for people from outside to buy land.

The recently former People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration -- an amalgam of seven mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir -- condemned the changes and vowed to fight these on all fronts.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the amendments were unacceptable. "Even the tokenism of domicile has been done away with when purchasing non-agricultural land and transfer of agricultural land has been made easier. J&K is now up for sale and the poor small and marginal land owner will suffer," he tweeted.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said it was a step to "disenfranchise" the people of Jammu and Kashmir. "Yet another step that is part of GOI's nefarious designs to disempower & disenfranchise people of JK. From the unconstitutional scrapping of Article 370 to facilitating loot of our natural resources and finally putting land in JK up for sale," she tweeted.

Left leader Sitaram Yechury tweeted: "This is highway robbery. The loot of J&K's resources & beautiful landscape. Having destroyed all people's democratic structures, will the next step be forcible land acquisition to hand over to cronies & fatten the purses of the ruling party at Centre? This cannot be allowed."

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