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Forced to Fight for Identity, It's No More About Power, Says Omar as Protest against New Land Laws Intensify

Srinagar: J&K National Conference Vice-President Omar Abdullah welcomes former PDP leader Saifuddin Bhat in the party, in Srinagar, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (PTI Photo)(PTI29-10-2020_000112B)

Srinagar: J&K National Conference Vice-President Omar Abdullah welcomes former PDP leader Saifuddin Bhat in the party, in Srinagar, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (PTI Photo)(PTI29-10-2020_000112B)

Former CM and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the fight of political workers in Kashmir was now for identity.

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Suhas Munshi

Lashing out at the central government over the prevention of PDP workers from protesting against the changes in land laws, former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah wondered whether the Centre wanted political parties to leave mainstream politics altogether.

"What do you want from us? Do you want us to leave mainstream politics here?" Abdullah asked while reacting to the government's action of stopping Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) workers from carrying out a protest against the recent changes in land laws in the state.

The former chief minister said the fight of political workers in Kashmir was now for identity. "These special laws and status were given to Jammu & Kashmir at the time of Maharaja Hari Singh," Abdullah said, while pointed out that leaders in Nagaland have refused similar laws.

“We have been forced to unite and fight for the rights. We are not counting seats anymore. This fight is not about power or chief ministership. It would be shameful if we go after power. People will never forgive us if we do something like that. I wish this coming together of parties happened earlier. There are so many states where people from other parts of the country cannot buy land. If we are talking against this law, we are being called 'anti-nationals',” he said.

Political parties in Kashmir, except the BJP, under the umbrella body of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), had recently voiced their serious objections to the changes in the land laws notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday, which do away with the necessity of domicile for purpose of buying land.

PDP president and former CM Mehbooba Mufti said the move is yet another step of the government to disempower & disenfranchise people of J&K. “Yet another step thats part of GOI’s nefarious designs to disempower & disenfranchise people of J&K. From the unconstitutional scrapping of Article 370 to facilitating loot of our natural resources & finally putting land in J&K up for sale,” she wrote on Twitter.

PAGD spokesperson Sajad Lone said, ““The unconstitutional measure is clearly designed as an attempt to preempt the outcome of the challenge before the Supreme Court. The assault on exclusive property rights apart, changes in urban development laws and creation of Security Zones is bound to prejudicially affect the environment and ecosystem in environmentally fragile regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh in utter disregard of grave environmental concerns.”

In the 111-page notification, the MHA has made several changes to the land laws, including one that allows use of agricultural land for setting up facilities of public purpose.

Before the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35-A in August last year, non-residents could not buy any immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir.


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