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   International Peace Research Initiative (IPRI)
Conflict Resolution and Peace Research Programme
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)
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The primary reason behind the repeal of the law and the primary response to the repeal is the larger politics of the ruling government and the opposition parties in the Valley.

Also in the series (Friday Backgrounder)

IPRI # 111, 23 October 2020
J&K: Flag, Constitution, Media Freedom and Local Elections

IPRI # 98, 04 September 2020
J&K: The PDP meeting, Muharram clashes and the Kashmiri parties vis-à-vis Pakistan

IPRI # 95, 28 August 2020
J&K: The Gupkar Resolution is a good beginning. So is the NIA charge sheet on the Pulwama Attack.

IPRI # 93, 21 August 2020
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IPRI # 91, 14 August 2020
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IPRI # 89, 7 August 2020
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IPRI # 86, 31 July 2020
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IPRI # 83, 24 July 2020
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IPRI # 79, 10 July 2020
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IPRI # 77, 3 July 2020
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IPRI # 118, 30 October 2020

J&K
The Friday Backgrounder: Union Government amends the land laws, and the Kashmiri Opposition protests. There is politics in both

  D Suba Chandran

The Union government amends the land laws in J&K, enabling outsiders to purchase land in the Union Territory
Facts on the ground
On 26 October, the Union government of India amended a series of existing laws relating to the ownership and purchase of lands in J&K. Two laws - J&K Development Act (1970) and the J&K Land Revenue Act (1996) governed legal issues relating to land purchase, sale and ownership in the then J&K. While these two legislations looked into multiple issues, a primary provision they had was – relating to the purchase of land by outsiders in J&K. Only a "permanent resident" of the erstwhile J&K State can purchase land inside the State, and outsiders cannot.

According to the latest notification from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), people outside J&K also purchase land in the UT now. The MHA has been vested with the authority to modify and repeal laws, according to the earlier Act in 2019.
 
Focus issues in the background
First, a short note on the issue and the special status. The provision not allowing the non-State subject to purchase land within J&K has been considered as one of the features of the special status that the erstwhile State enjoyed. Though others States in India also has features relating to the sale of land or purchase by outsiders from rest of the country, it was not as complete as has been the case in J&K. While the residents of J&K can purchase land elsewhere in the rest of India, non-residents of J&K could not buy land inside the erstwhile State. 
For the local population in J&K, especially for the people in Kashmir Valley, and to an extent in Ladakh (which today is a separate Union Territory) purchase of land by outsiders is always an emotional and political issue. Some sub-regions within the erstwhile J&K, for example in Ladakh, a section has been apprehensive of even people from rest of the J&K buying land.
For many in the rest of India, this does not make sense. They ask if people from Kashmir can buy land in the rest of the country, why should they be against the reverse? The issue here is emotional.

Second, apprehensions about the idea of the sale of land to outsiders. Many inside J&K, especially in the Kashmir Valley fear that the provision protects outsiders from settling within Kashmir Valley, thereby not affecting the demography. The issue here is not just emotional, but also political and demographic. The locals fear that the rest of India would change the demography of Kashmir valley by coming and settling here.

Third, economic and developmental. The government's position – whether the present one or the earlier ones, for long has been – the strict laws relating to purchase of land prevent outsiders from investing in J&K. One of the reasons projected for the big business houses not investing in J&K has been related to this. Perhaps, there has been pressure from the local business houses to avoid outsiders from entering. Hence the local political leadership also preferred the status quo. 

Fourth, the differences between the numerous sub-regions within J&K. While Kashmir based leadership has been vociferous, the response from the Jammu leadership has been muted. Why? Perhaps, the Kashmir Valley is more monolithic than the Jammu region, hence the fear of outsiders is more. The Jammu region is multi-ethnic and has multiple communities and speak multiple languages, hence is less apprehensive of the outsiders. 

Or, perhaps, the Valley has the Opposition parties, hence see this issue as an emotive that can be used to politicised, whereas the Jammu region has a strong BJP presence that would favour the move. However, in Jammu's case, irrespective of their support to the BJP, whether they would continue supporting this move will depend on how the law ends up in the long run. In the long run, instead of helping the region with improving its economy by attracting investment, if the law leads to more outsiders (from Punjab and Himachal) settling in Jammu, there could be a different perception. 

Finally, the political. The local political leadership, especially the Valley-based is projecting it as the "Sale of J&K." The BJP government which is behind the idea of changes that started in August 2019 project this as necessary for attracting investments from outside and improve development. There is an element of truth in both the projections, but so much politics behind it. 

The primary reason behind the repeal of the law and the primary response to the repeal is the larger politics of the ruling government and the opposition parties in the Valley.

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