Kashmir blessed by rich history & gorgeous geography has always been cursed & abused by its politicians. Its sanctity has been violated times without number & the latest among these is the shelving of the bill aimed at amending certain provisions of law which make it easier to acquire immovable property by non state subjects in Jammu .The nefarious objective behind this move is to allow more & more non state subjects in the State to settle & to enforce a demographic change of its liking in the State.
But before we discuss the latest move, let us have a look at the actions/statements of ruling coalition since the day it seized power in the State after stitching an unholy alliance
Upon the coalition Govt. being sworn in, shrill voices were raised to grant state subject rights to West Pakistan refugees followed by change in procedure to issue the permanent resident certificates from schools instead by revenue authorities. This was followed by a RSS backed think tank to challenge Article 35A of Indian Constitution which provides a protective shield to rights of native citizens of the State. Thereafter, orders were issued to demolish Muslim habitats in forest land in Sunjwan, Bathindi, Raika and Sidhra while concentration of non-local people in areas like Gurkha Nagar, Qasim Nagar, Rajiv Nagar, Janipur, Roop Nagar were ignored, followed by revelations to construct colonies for retired Army personnel & permanent shelter for non state subject floating population. Industrial policy was designed to provide land to non locals outside Industrial areas ad-mist information surfacing that Industrial units & job contracts have been allotted to non locals in preference to local State subjects. That vast tracts of land have also been allotted to Hindu demi-gods like Asaram, presently in Jail on rape charges, have also come to fore.
The change of demographic character of the J&K State has always been a cherished dream of RSS-BJP. The plan of action was set in motion in 1947 itself when half a million Muslims in Jammu were annihilated with the assistance of Indian army & Congress leaders like Sardar patel .Encouraged by the non-action of the then State Govt to punish the marauders, it has been on prowl since then to suggest this way or that way to change the demographic character of whole state. Statement of many RSS leaders to settle around non state subjects and million soldiers in the valley is a clear proof of their thinking & strategy, if any is needed. The redemption of their dream has now been made easy by BJP ascending to power in the State courtesy a helping hand extended by PDP.
RSS –BJP has not stopped at that only. Besides organizing Shakhas in educational institutions, it has organized rallies of its followers flaunting deadly arms in full public view. It facilitated admission of its followers in so-called fully armed Village defence committees. Even women in cities & far-flung areas have been and are being imparted training in arms and that too in Govt. owned premises like Mubarak Mandi. Its purpose is to create an atmosphere of terror against the local populace to enact Jammu Massacre II ,if need be and force the Muslims into complete submission.
Now coming to the issue of shelving o the bill aimed to make some amendments in the law, let us have a look at sub-section (3) of ‘The transfer of property Act, 1977 (1920 AD),which was aimed to be amended. It is reproduced hereunder:
” No person shall take possession of or commence to build or build on any land in the province of Kashmir which has been transferred or has been contracted to be transferred to him unless & until such transfer becomes valid under the provisions of sub section (1)”.
Now sub-section (1) simply says that a transfer of immovable property is not valid unless it is in writing and duly registered in accordance with law. Such registration has to be registered before a designated judge, usually called Sub-registrar who demands production of a Permanent resident certificate (PRC) before according his approval.
As will be seen, the strict law regarding obtaining of possession & starting of any construction thereon applied only to Kashmir province . In Jammu province possession of land could be obtained by means other than registration like power of Attorney . So a practice developed in Jammu to give or take possession through a power of Attorney along with few other accompanying documents like letter of undertaking, affidavit will etc. etc. which assumed menacing proportions particularly after 1975 when the policy of setting up of Industries was liberalized by the then NC Govt. Non state subjects exploited & misused this lacuna in law & obtained immovable properties in Jammu without getting them registered before sub-registrar where they would have been required to produce a PRC.
It was actually this provision which was intended to be amended by the coalition Govt. to remove the lacuna & include whole of J&K State (instead of Kashmir only) in the sub-section but for the last minute U-turn by BJP at the behest of RSS. The required amendment bill already cleared by Cabinet was sent to Select Committee ( second name for sending a bill to cold storage), throwing the parliamentary precedents & conventions to winds. A crack has now been left open in the window to allow the wind & whatever else that can pass through the hole.
It may also be mentioned here that PDP also played a crucial role along with Congress party in sabotaging a bill aimed to deny ownership rights in immovable property to local women marrying non State subjects. In 2004, It withdrew a petition before Supreme court which had been lodged to Challenge an adverse Judgment by J&K High Court in the matter. It then enacted a drama with other actors in the legislative council to sabotage a bill meant to neutralize the said adverse Judgment . The result-J&K High Court’s Judgment, neither challenged nor neutralized has become a law which allows local women married with non state subjects to retain their permanent resident status & acquire immovable property in the State. Encouraged by this a petition has now been lodged before J&K High court praying for permanent residential status to children of such women also. Remember the story of camel & tent, if it has faded from your memory.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)