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'Bid to Change Demography': Row in J&K Over Proposal to Allot Land to Homeless

Anees Zargar |
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti accused the government of trying to ‘change the demography’ of the region through land allotment under the PMAY.
Mehbooba Mufti

Image Courtesy: PTI

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir administration has refuted the allegations by former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who claimed that the government is planning to ‘change the demography’ of the region through its latest proposal of allotting land to homeless persons. 

The authorities issued a rebuttal claiming the remarks made by Mufti are “factually incorrect” and without any understanding of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and J&K revenue laws, which permit allotment of land to the landless for housing purposes. 

“Neither any change in the law has been made, nor any outsider is being allotted land,” the official statement read.

The president of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) earlier on Wednesday termed it a “dangerous game” being played in J&K on the pretext of providing land to the landless. 

“We will not allow it. People of Jammu and Kashmir, on the lines of Ladakh, will resist such moves to import poverty and slums into the region,” Mufti said. She was addressing the media at her party headquarters in Srinagar. 

Mufti expressed these concerns days after the Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha-led administration announced that it had approved the allotment of five Marlas of land to each landless poor person under the PMAY (Grameen) beneficiaries to build houses in the Union Territory. 

As he announced the decision, Sinha called it a “historic day” for Jammu and Kashmir. 

According to the officials, PMAY (Grameen) phase -1 started on April 1, 2016, in which 257349 Houseless cases were identified in J&K and after due verification by Gram Sabhas, out of which 136152 cases were sanctioned for J&K under the overall commitment of Prime Minister for “Housing for all by 2022”.

The Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, on May 30, allotted an additional 1,99,550 PMAY AWAS(+) houses as a special dispensation in order to ensure housing for all 2.65 lakh houseless persons who were part of PWL 2019.

Mufti, however, questioned the identity of the alleged 1.9 L landless people in Jammu and Kashmir. She sought clarification by quoting figures presented by the central government to Parliament, which said there are only 19,000 homeless families in the region. 

She said the floodgates will open in Jammu, where people have already raised their voices against the proposal. The PDP leader said they are in complete support of the people of Ladakh, who have launched an ongoing stir demanding the inclusion of land rights and jobs in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Pertinently, Ladakhis are also launching a non-cooperation movement from July 15 against business investments from non-locals. 

“We will not allow it to happen like the people of Ladakh, and people from Jammu and Kashmir will oppose any such move that is aimed to annihilate its people,” she said. 

Mufti also questioned why such a proposal was not announced for Kashmiri Pandits living in flats or camps. 

Fear of ‘demographic change’ emerged first in the region after Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government abrogated Articles 370 and 35 A on August 5, 2019, despite opposition from the locals and regional political parties. The government has so far refuted these claims vehemently.

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