By amending several laws, the Indian government has now allowed non-residents to buy land in Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IOK), which means that any Indian citizen can purchase immovable property in the territory.
This change was brought about by the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Third Order, 2020, which removed the phrase “permanent resident of the state” from Section 17 of the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act.
“With immediate effect, the Acts mentioned in the Schedule to this Order shall, until repealed or amended by a competent Legislature or other competent authority, have an effect, subject to the adaptations and modifications directed by the said Schedule, or if it is so directed, shall stand repealed,” read the order.
Indian Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had said that under the new order, land which belongs to farmers cannot be sold or transferred to a non-agriculturalist, however, there is a loophole in which the land can be sold, transferred or gifted with the Indian government’s approval.
Political parties in Kashmir have called the notification “unacceptable”, and said it will hit the small land-owning farmers in the union territory.
Former Chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said on Twitter, “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 land holding owners will suffer.”
Similarly, Minister of States and Frontier Regions Shehryar Afridi condemned the move, and called it a “draconian law” which was another move by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to continue “occupying all rights of Kashmiris”.
Before today’s notification, only “permanent residents” of Indian occupied Kashmir could buy property in the region.
The decision comes as Kashmiris observe October 27 as ‘Black Day’, when Indian forces took over the valley 73 years ago in 1947.