The untouchable status quo of Articles 370 and 35 A has been unraveled and cutting across party lines and ideologies different political parties have supported it except Congress which ended up split publically with even former Sadr-e-Riyasat Dr. Karan Singh and his son Vikramaditaya, both of Congress, supporting abrogation. Integration of Kashmir with India was core of Bhartiya Jan Sangh since 1952 and in between 1952-67 it passed 24 political resolutions on Kashmir, even before Ram Mandir issue, political goal of BJP was Kashmir in 1980s. It’s not that Article 370 was inviolable as this arrangement has been altered over 40 times since 1954, Union List of 94 entries of 97, 26 of 47 entries of Concurrent List to state have been implemented and 260 of 395 articles are applicable to state of Jammu and Kashmir. Now with Presidential notification under Article 239 choosing 31st October as the day of inception of UT of Jammu and Kashmir all speculations have been put to rest, 108 laws will be applicable to our UT, among them is RTI, Prevention of Corruption Act and Benami Property Act, National Commission for Minorities, Right to Education, National Council for Teacher Education, Land Acquisition, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, protection of whistleblowers, welfare of parents and senior citizens to name a few.
But it seems this Benami Property Act has virtually disturbed the political class like anything as each and every one of them is parroting only one line that Jammu’s land and culture is at stake. On one hand GoI is trying to ensure smooth transition from State to UT, clarifying the importance and benefits to the people of Kashmir, but this unexpected hoax and unwarranted fears created in the minds of Jammuites is beyond one’s explanation. Specific example of Himachal and North Eastern States are being cited for instilling fears in the mind of Jammu public and the way leaders of even ruling party are part of this vicious campaign things seem to be heading towards a different direction without any logic. One should not forget that on one hand refugees from Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir couldn’t even become councilors due to 370 and 35A but helped corruption to flourish, poverty to increase and on the other hand two of our leaders IK Gujral and Manmohan Singh could become Prime Ministers of India as they migrated to Punjab and not to Jammu and Kashmir, what more can explain this man made tragedy in our state till now. Much talked about Section 118 of Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972 is entirely different from the now scrapped provisions in Article 370 and Article 35A as anybody can buy a flat, villa or pre constructed house in HP, but non-agriculturists be it Himachalis or non-Himachalis cannot buy agricultural land in Himachal and State Government permission is required if anyone wants to buy land for a business or any other purpose. During Himachal’s first Chief Minister Yashwant Singh Parmar’s tenure itself this act was passed in 1972 and sub Section 2 (g) gives non-agriculturists the right to purchase a house, or land for building a house, from the Himachal Pradesh Housing and Urban Development Authority.If the constructed property is within the municipal limits a registered sale deed will be executed in your name and it will be a freehold property but if the property is outside Municipal limits then it will be leased to you through a registered lease deed and the lease can go up to 99 years.
Similarly in Uttrakhand the State Government had enacted an adapted and amended version of the Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act in 2003 to stop the exploitation of agricultural land in rural areas. People from outside the state could buy only 500 sq meter of agricultural land for residential purposes. In case the land is being bought for commercial purposes, special permission from the State Government needs to be taken, while in case the land is being bought for agricultural and horticultural use, permission is required from the District Magistrate.
So for all practical purpose one can buy and sell property in Uttarakhand as well like in Himachal. North East India comprises of seven states commonly known as the “Seven Sisters”, they are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Article 371-A states that no act of Parliament shall be applicable to the State of Nagaland, be it religious or social practices of the Nagas or its customary law/procedure or ownership/ transfer of land and its resources. Article 371-G that deals with special provisions with respect to Mizoram is similar in nature. Article 371-B deals with the special provision with respect to the State of Assam, the main objective was to facilitate the creation of the sub-State ‘Meghalaya’, Article 371-C deals with special provisions with respect to Manipur and Articles 371-F, 371-H talk about special provisions with respect to States of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, respectively. So practically Article 371 is a provision to create States with minimum checks to protect small states from Bangladesh refugees only to prevent demographic changes.
But from independence till now, time has proven that any state which has closed its door on the pretext of safeguarding interests of locals have neither succeeded in protecting land nor have they tasted fruits of progress. Maharashtra and Karnataka, biggest business hubs of India, are practical examples how best talents migrating from other states have transformed these two states. Even Himachal and Uttarakhand closest to us have successful industrial towns like Baddi, Parwanoo, Dehradun, Pantnagar, Haridawar along with marvelous tourist infrastructure built across both the states as compared to nothing in our J&K. Even Assam is having oil refineries for decades now. If Jammu has not been affected culturally as well as land invasion till now despite hundreds of liquor vends in every nook and corner of Jammu Division, thousands of Rohingyas settled in Jammu, illegal colonies on forest land in the outskirts of Jammu region, thousands of labour and working class from UP, Bihar, WB already settled and working in Jammu doing jobs like masonry, carpenter, electrician, plumber, tailors, cooks/waiters, security, you name the field they are there, then how this is going to affect in future is beyond one’s imagination. If by protecting land of State is criteria for progress and development then all North Eastern states along with our own J&K should have been topping the development and industrial investment charts but this is not the case practically.
Jammu’s political and bureaucratic circle have no plans or vision for Jammu’s development as instead of all party leaders/officials collectively giving representation at centre for various immediate demands/plans for Jammu, they are inciting public in the name of land and cultural invasion. With leaders and officials themselves involved in land scandals ranging from making villas near army installation, encroachment on nullah land to build palatial house, with HC directing to secure banks of Tawi river and other water bodies, thousands of acres of JDA land already encroached by land sharks when all these leaders were just mute spectators but with the sword of Benami property Act hanging on their necks they are just misleading public and nothing else and these actions are just creating element of doubt in the minds of potential investors even before UT of J & K comes into picture which is totally against the interest of Jammu. With rail connectivity and other facilities Jammu Division can reap the maximum benefits of industrialization as such Central Government should immediately put its foot down and present the facts and figures in public domain immediately. There is no space for any mischief now on development issues as Jammu is already lagging far behind in investment and development since independence and this ostrich like approach of local leaders should be immediately snubbed before it damages the cause of Jammu in future. Let bliss of industrial investment, tourism, harmony and brotherhood bloom in Jammu without any inhibitions and wrong notions.