Jammu and Kashmir new land laws end past property leases, face criticism from political parties

The Lieutenant Governor administration plans to hold fresh online auction to outsource these lease properties.

December 15, 2022 08:23 pm | Updated 08:23 pm IST - Srinagar

File photo of Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha

File photo of Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha | Photo Credit: PTI

The Jammu and Kashmir administration’s new land laws has ended the owners right to hold on to properties on lease in the Union Territory (U.T.) and plans to outsource these properties afresh online. The move, however, has come under sharp criticism from the regional parties.

The Lieutenant Governor’s (L-G) administration has notified J&K Land Grant Rules 2022 to replace J&K Land Grants Rules 1960, which had liberal lease policy such as 99-year lease period and extendable. Most hotels at famous tourist places in the Valley and prime commercial structures in twin capitals of Jammu and Srinagar are on lease land.

The new laws state that all leases, except the subsisting or expired residential leases, including lease granted under the J&K Land Grants Rules 1960, notified area (All Development Authorities set in tourism sector) Land Grants Rules, 2007 and leases expired or determined prior to the coming into force of these rules or issued under these rules shall not be renewed and shall stand determined. The L-G administration plans to hold fresh online auction to outsource these lease properties.

“All the outgoing lessees would immediately hand over the possession of the land taken on lease to the government, failing which the outgoing lessee shall be evicted,” officials said.

Defending the move, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said the necessary changes were being made in land laws “for the convenience of the common masses”. “The land laws here were regressive. They were not framed keeping in view the interests of the common masses. Around 40 to 45 percent cases in various courts are due to land disputes,” L-G Sinha said.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said this move only “exposed the real designs of the BJP.” “The whole agenda of removing Article 370 was to take away our resources and land. It’s on the lines of what Israel does in Gaza. These hoteliers and businessmen were the backbone of our economy. It’s direct attack on our economy and aimed to settle outsiders. It’s obvious from handing over lease land to families of servicemen,” Ms. Mufti.

National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah also opposed the move. “It’s unfortunate and aimed at settling outsiders. If the government wants to bring outsiders here, we have no objection but the first right belongs to those who were already settled here,” Mr. Abdullah said.

Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone said the policy was not at par with the rest of the country. “It may well start the dark chapter of now blatantly othering the Kashmiris. Lease rules across the world and in India are fairly simple and on similar lines. But these are different and not without motives,” Mr. Lone said.

Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari described the move as ““draconian and inhumane”. “Never seen such laws anywhere in the world. People in possession of the land are being kicked out. It should be dealt and managed in an appropriate way. These new land laws cannot be implemented and will not be allowed to be implemented,” Mr. Bukhari said.

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