Growing Unease

NEW land laws have become a cause of deep unease in J&K. Kashmir observed a shutdown over the issue in response to Hurriyat call and People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration has also taken a serious exception to the laws. Incidentally the land laws have evoked opposition in Jammu too. This despite the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha assuring the people that “not an inch” of the ninety percent agricultural land will be sold to outsiders. He expressed hope that the amended land laws would attract an investment of an estimated Rs 30,000 crore within the next three years. He also said the arrival of Industries in Kashmir would solve the issue of unemployment in the region that, according to him, was double the national average. The government, he said, wanted to build an industrial city, an IT city, a medicity that will be facilitated by the new land laws.

But this has hardly convinced the opponents of the land laws in J&K. The PAGD has termed the government defence as “a bundle of lies”. The real objective to repeal the basic land laws, the PAGD said, is to push in and implement the agenda of effecting demographic change and disempowering the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The Alliance has also rightly said that it was because of the land reforms “that there are no starvation deaths in J&K and no farmer suicides” in Kashmir.

On the other hand, the new land laws have generated disaffection in Jammu also. A few days ago, over 20 political parties and social organisations held a meeting in Jammu to discuss ‘certain issues’ related to the winter capital. Apart from Panthers Party, the meeting was attended by Dogra Sadar Sabha, Ikkjut Jammu among others and interestingly the move elicited support from parties like Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and United Democratic Alliance.

The leaders have reportedly pressed for a separate statehood for Jammu. The opinion that is building in Jammu is that while they voted for the BJP and also supported the abrogation of Article 370, they also stand to lose like their counterparts in the Kashmir valley. Other than the BJP, almost all other Jammu based parties including Congress are not happy with the new land laws including the earlier domicile rules, fearing their fallout will be largely detrimental to Jammu.

However, it is still too early to estimate how politics in Jammu will evolve in near to medium future. Or for that matter, how the politics will shape up in Kashmir in response to what is perceived as an assault on the region. What is needed under the circumstances is for the centre to engage with the political opinion in both the regions and seek to address the fears and insecurities among the people.

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