Srinagar: The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) on Tuesday rejected the Jammu and Kashmir government’s assertion that the bulk of the agricultural land will not be transferred to people from outside the Union Territory.
The PAGD termed the earlier land laws of Jammu and Kashmir the most progressive, pro-people and pro-farmer in the entire Indian subcontinent.
“PAGD rejects the statement of official spokesman on 26th October MHA order as bizarre attempt to distort facts, weave lies and mislead people,” the seven-party alliance said in a statement.
It said the real object of the repeal of the basic land laws and the massive amendments to the other laws is to push in and implement the agenda of effecting “demographic change and disempowering” the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Jammu and Kashmir was the first in the country to implement the concept of land to tiller by enacting Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, 1952, followed by Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976, restricting the land holding to twelve and half acres and ending the exploitative practice of absentee landlordism, and whosoever calls it archaic, would be guilty of ignorance of the history of Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is because of the timely land reforms that no starvation deaths occur in Jammu and Kashmir, no farmer suicides have been ever reported from Jammu and Kashmir and everyone in Jammu and Kashmir has available three fundamental necessities food, clothing and shelter, the position that is now sought to be reversed by making massive assault on the land law regime,” the statement added.
The PAGD asked how the Alienation of Land Act could be termed archaic when it prohibited transfer of land to a non-state subject thus protecting the interests of the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and at the same time, made a provision for transfer of land by mortgage to organisations like Industrial Development Bank of India, Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India to keep pace with industrial development.
“The repeal of the Act now allows the land to be transferred to non-state subjects, denuding the residents of Jammu and Kashmir of their most precious rights. The claimed protection of rights in agricultural land, it is stated, is mere eyewash as the amendment introduced in Land Revenue Act provides for permission to sell the agricultural land almost at mere asking without difficulty.
“The abolition of Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, 1952 and amendments in Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976 is against farmers and to remove the ceiling on acquisition. The changes in Development Act and creation of ‘security zones’ to avoid adherence to the rules and regulations as regards construction activities in such zones and exclusion of oversight by expert bodies, environmental activists and civil society groups is bound to put at peril ecosystem in fragile environmental areas like Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg already under pressure beyond their carrying capacity,” the PAGD statement said.
The laws now introduced through amendments are not only “against people of Jammu and Kashmir” but “undemocratic, unconstitutional and backward looking with only aim to disempower people and change the demography,” it added.
The PADG comprises the National Conference, the PDP, CPI(M), CPI, People’s Conference, Awami National Conference and the People’s Movement.