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Unlike Kashmir, Ladakh May See 'Some Protection' for Locals' Land Rights, Hints Union Min Jitendra Singh

Union Minister Jitendra Singh

Union Minister Jitendra Singh

Speaking exclusively to CNN-News18, Singh said that Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir geography and demography were not comparable and therefore drawing parallel between the two newly created Union territories was also unfair.

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Ladakh could see some protection for its population's land ownership rights in contrast to Jammu and Kashmir. The indication came from Minister of State for Prime Minister's Office Dr Jitendra Singh.

Speaking exclusively to CNN-News18, Singh said that Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir geography and demography were not comparable and therefore drawing parallel between the two newly created Union territories was also unfair.

"India is a heterogeneous country. Each state /Union Territory is different so you can't compare Ladakh with Kashmir. It is a tribal area. Secondly, it has a huge sensitive border and LAC with China. So you can't draw a parallel," Dr Singh said when asked if Ladakh's land would also be open to buyers from across India like it is now open for Jammu and Kashmir. "Plus there is no vested interest in Ladakh," taking a dig at the Abdullahs and Muftis.

A decision on land laws for Ladakh is expected this fortnight. Centre had assured protesting Ladakhi leaders a decision within 15 days of the Hill Development Council election results. BJP won the elections after securing 15 of the 26 seats. Ladakhis have been demanding protection for the land, culture and demography under the 6th schedule of the Constitution.

Dr Jitendra Singh when asked about the apprehension in Jammu and Kashmir that the new notification from Centre would mean 'Kashmir on sale', said, "The freedom to an outsider to come and buy property doesn't mean that the owner has ben denied the right to sell his property or decide who he wants to sell it to. Rather, it gives you bigger option of choosing from a bigger pool of buyers. It is a democratisation of property market and a huge boost to economy," he said.

He added, "Even if innocent people are being mislead, they will realise with passage of time that this is beneficial to them. This is a bogie by those whose tactics is to get elected with 10% vote and then rule."

Gupkar Alliance leaders had slammed the Centre's decision on Tuesday. Former CM Omar Abdullah had asked if he can't buy land in Himachal Pradesh where he studied for eight years, why is similar protection being denied to people of Jammu and Kashmir. Responding, Singh said, "Wish somebody could remind him that how does he own a house in Delhi and the other CM's sister a place in Chennai? They don't belong to that place or hold domicile. So if they can buy in rest of India, how can they deny others (chance to buy in JK)."

Singh also expressed hope that the change in land laws will give a boost to industries specially in sectors of food processing, catering, dairy and medical infrastructure. "Big corporates dont wish to take the hassle of negotiating with land owners individually. Government has to provide incentives to industries but so far governments in JK were disincentivising ," MoS said.

The MP from Udhampur also slammed Mehbooba Mufti for questioning the NIA raids on NGOs and Newspaper owning trusts. Mufti had called it an attack on freedom of press. "NIA raids have been happening in Srinagar over the last year and a half, so people saying that these raids are targeted at Bihar elections are wrong. Are these leaders who are questioning NIA probe saying that just a press sticker or being a NGO gives you a license to fund terror or indulge in anti india activity?" he asked.


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