New Delhi: Union minister Jitendra Singh on Wednesday said the new land laws in Jammu and Kashmir, which allow all Indians to buy land there, will boost the economy and offer value addition to the higher education institutions in the union territory.
He said the earlier arrangement not only created a physical barrier but also caused a mental barrier to outsiders who were willing to contribute and invest but never had the feeling of belonging.
“Jammu and Kashmir land reforms are being opposed by disgruntled elements. This bogey is being raised by those who are feeling the threat to their vote bank,” the minister of State for Personnel said.
The Centre on Tuesday allowed people from across the country to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir by amending several laws, a move which the mainstream political parties in the union territory said was akin to putting the erstwhile state up “for sale”.
Singh hailed the new land laws as a welcome step.
“This will boost the economy of Jammu and Kashmir and at the same time, offer value addition to the institutions of higher education,” the minister said.
Singh said the right to buy property by outsiders in Jammu and Kashmir does not deprive the owner of the property the right to decide whether to sell his or her land or not.
“On the contrary, for any potential property seller in Jammu and Kashmir, the new arrangement offers a wider range and wider loop of buyers to decide as to whom to sell and at what price to sell,” he said.
Singh claimed that several potential investors are in a beeline, waiting to set up units in Jammu and Kashmir and, in fact, ever since the abrogation of Article 370 provisions, they had been repeatedly approaching the government to expedite the process of issuing land notification so that they could go ahead with their entrepreneurship initiatives.
In the times to come, he said this will not only boost industry and business in Jammu and Kashmir but also create new avenues of employment and livelihood.
Rebutting the allegation by certain Kashmir-centric politicians that the new land laws are a threat to demography, Singh retorted saying that actually they are feeling the threat to their vote bank demography because over the years they had learnt to survive and thrive on a captive vote bank.
“If they are actually convinced about what they are saying, then why did they not allow voting rights to refugees from Pakistan even when Article 370 was in force and there was no threat to demography, as seen by them,” he said.
Responding to the allegation that “J-K is on sale” and that people from outside will come and buy bungalows and properties in the union territory, Singh asked are the Gupkar bungalows on sale and is any of the residents of Gupkar Road allowing their bungalows to be taken over by somebody from outside?
He said it means that nobody can purchase a bungalow unless the owner is willing to sell it.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah lives in a bungalow on Gupkar Road in Srinagar.
Singh said if the new notification allowed the freedom to grab or forcibly occupy a property in Jammu and Kashmir, as is being made out, then the Gupkar bungalows, being most likeable and situated in the most picturesque locality, would have been the first to be taken over by outsiders.