Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira has sought Punjab Assembly Speaker’s permission to introduce a private member’s Bill in the next session of the Assembly to restrict/bar non-agriculturist and non-bona fide Punjabis from buying agricultural land in Punjab.
He, along with Leader of the Opposition, Partap Singh Bajwa, on Monday met Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhwan and submitted a request surrounding the private member’s Bill.
“As you are aware, there has been a massive population migration of Punjabis to different parts of the world in search of better livelihood during the last few decades. As per rough estimates, approximately one-sixth of Punjab’s total population of 2.75 crore, that is to say almost 50 lakh of our people, have migrated abroad,” read the letter.
It added “... Apart from the negative financial impact on Punjab, due to the shift of population at such large scale, the demographic situation has also started to change drastically. The identity of Punjabis is under severe threat as lakhs and lakhs of non-Punjabis have started to reside permanently in our State. Apart from the above-mentioned demographic threat, the exodus of our youth to other countries has led to a sharp drop of Punjabi’s in central services and Armed Forces which is a matter of grave concern too.”
Mr. Khaira, who is MLA from Bholath, said that while he was not against “non-Punjabis” coming into Punjab for employment opportunities but was concerned about their settling permanently in Punjab, becoming owners of agricultural land, becoming permanent voters, etc.
Mr. Khaira said if this trend is not nipped in the bud, Punjabis particularly the Sikhs will be in a minority in their own motherland in the next 20-25 years. “It was because of this reason that States like Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, etc. in order to protect their identity and existence, passed laws to bar outsiders from buying agricultural land thus becoming permanent residents of their States.
Section 118 of the Himachal Pradesh Tenancy Act, 1972 restricts all non-Punjabis from purchasing agricultural land in Himachal Pradesh. “There are provisions in accordance with the said act of Himachal Pradesh to set up industry or even buy agriculture land after following the due process of law,” said Mr. Khaira.