Congress opposes new land laws, PDP, JKNPP stage protest
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir unit of the Congress on Wednesday joined the other mainstream parties in opposing the new land laws notified by the Centre for the union territory.
“The Congress party rejects the new land laws and vows to fight for the protection of people’s rights,” JKPCC president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said while addressing a public gathering in the Gurez area of Bandipora district.
He termed the new land laws as an assault on the rights of people and said the Congress party would not accept such “anti-J&K decisions” by the Centre.
The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, an amalgam of various mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir including the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had also condemned the amendments to the land laws and pledged to fight it on all fronts.
The Centre had on Tuesday cleared the decks for people from across the country to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir by amending several laws.
In a gazette notification, the Ministry of Home Affairs made several changes to the land laws, including one that allows the use of agricultural land for setting up facilities of public purpose.
The most important amendment has been made in the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act that deals with disposal of land with the Centre omitting the phrase “permanent resident of the state” from Section 17 of the law.
Reacting to the development, the National Conference had said the latest move by the Centre has put up “Jammu and Kashmir on sale”.
NC vice president Omar Abdullah had said the newly introduced JK Development Act, which has come into force with immediate effect, was “hostile to the interests of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh”.
People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) spokesperson Sajad Lone said the order was a “huge betrayal”.
The PAGD comprises the National Conference, the PDP, CPI(M), CPI, People’s Conference, Awami National Conference and the People’s Movement.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and National Panthers Party (NPP) on Wednesday held separate protests in Jammu, demanding that the new land laws be repealed.
Led by party general secretary and former legislator Surinder Choudhary, PDP activists holding the tricolour as well as the party flag assembled at the PDP headquarters at Gandhi Nagar and took out a rally.
However, the protesters were stopped by the police from marching on the main road and later dispersed peacefully.
This was the first major political activity by the PDP amid repeated attempts made by various groups and individuals to hoist the national flag on the party headquarters after its president Mehbooba Mufti had last week stoked a controversy with her remarks on the national flag.
In her first press conference after over 14-month detention in Srinagar, the former chief minister had on last Friday said that she was not interested in contesting elections or holding the tricolour till the constitutional changes enforced on August 5 last year were rolled back.
Meanwhile, JKNPP chairman and former minister Harh Dev Singh too led a protest demonstration near exhibition ground here and rejected the new land laws for Jammu and Kashmir.
It is an insult to the vision of last Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh who had introduced state subject in 1927 to protect the jobs and lands of locals. The saffron party arbitrarily notified the new law against the wishes of the people, he said.
The new draconian land law enacted by the government is a breach of trust of the people of J&K and Jammu region in particular. The BJP time and again assured the people that their right of land and jobs shall be safe guarded at all costs post abrogation of article 370 but the notification of the obnoxious law has sent ripples and shock waves among the people who are feeling cheated, Singh said.
He said the regime was hell bent to change the demography of the UT and Jammu province in particular.
Jammu region has been bearing the brunt of the illegal settlement of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis will the new land law not enable them to buy plots here and provide them an opportunity to settle permanently?, he asked.
Stressing that the new law will encourage the land mafia, the NPP leader called upon the Centre to repeal the new law in conformity with the aspirations of the people.
Amid anti-BJP sloganeering, the activists set ablaze an effigy of the saffron party before leaving.
Meanwhile, the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference has called for a shutdown on October 31 in protest against the new land laws. (PTI)