J&K: Farmland conversion regulation stirs fears of demographic shift

Srinagar: The government’s decision to draft regulations allowing the conversion of agricultural land in Jammu and Kashmir for non-agricultural use has drawn condemnation, with many believing it to pave the way for fears of demographic change in the region.

The regulations were developed by the Board of Revenue for the conversion and approved by the J&K Administrative Council which met here under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

“The regulations are made necessary after legislative changes to the Land Revenue Act following the reorganization of the old state. They were issued to regulate the uncontrolled conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes on the one hand and to maintain the development aspirations of UT and the population on the other, “a spokesperson said in a statement. official.

The changes to the law regarding land conversion in Jammu and Kashmir, where a majority of people are directly involved and dependent on agricultural products and practices, are seen by many as a way to pave the way for investment by local people. businesses and serve the real estate sharks. It comes a year after authorities in the region gave assurances to protect farmland and drafted laws around it.

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has attacked the government which she says is exposed to people.

“JK admin’s new policy allowing the conversion of farmland to non-farm use reveals their nefarious engineering conceptions of demographic changes. The development program is a ruse. The latest regulations don’t even require the 15-year-old certificate of domicile as a prerequisite, ”she tweeted.

The situation in Jammu and Kashmir has turned from bad to worse, especially after the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A with increased fears among residents following the right-wing Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party in power in the region. with an iron fist. Many here believe that policies regarding the region’s economic, political and social development are made without consulting the Kashmiris or their representatives, resulting in unpopular decisions.

Some have indicated that New Delhi wants to change the demographics of Jammu and Kashmir and end its status as a majority Muslim state in the country, a claim that is often refuted.

“The fear of demographic change has never been far from people’s minds and this land use change will only reinforce those fears. Besides the fact that this land use conversion does not even require the fifteen-year residence certificate as a prerequisite, will also rekindle fears of demographic change, ”said National Conference spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar. .

“Jammu and Kashmir is rapidly losing its ‘food independence’, as its dependence on imports peaked at around 1 lakh per metric ton in 2016-17. This will worsen further. the already growing food grain deficit in the region will worsen the grain deficit and make solutions to the already endemic crisis more elusive, ”he added while calling for an immediate decline.

Calling the move a way to serve corporate interests, CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said the BJP’s “development” slogan was nothing but a red herring. He said such proposals will have a negative impact on food security and will be “tooth and nail” pitted.

“The only intention to abolish the J&K Constitution and to repeal Articles 370 and 35A was to change the demographics of Jammu and Kashmir. Now, with such decisions, everything becomes clearer. It is a revelation for those who still have illusions about the intentions of the BJP government towards Jammu and Kashmir, ”said the former lawmaker.

Former chief minister and head of the National Conference, Omar Abdullah, also called the non-agricultural use of farmland antithetical to the historic ‘land to plowman’ reforms carried out in the former. J&K State.

“Allowing the use of farmland for non-farm purposes is another nail in the coffin of ‘land to plowman’ reforms at J&K. This historic reform has been one of the main reasons for the low levels of poverty and it will also threaten the food security of the people of J&K, ”Omar tweeted.