The Jammu and Kashmir administration signed 39 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) worth Rs 18,300 crore for investments in residential, commercial, infrastructure, and film sectors at a first-of-its-kind real estate summit in Jammu on December 27.
The government called the event organised by the Centre and the J&K administration a "historical milestone" in the real estate sector of the Union Territory and an important link to connect the UT to mainstream India.
The summit was attended by Union housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri; Union minister of state for prime minister's office Dr Jitendra Singh; Lieutenant Governor, J&K, Manoj Sinha; and others.
The event has, however, annoyed local politicians who allege it was a step towards altering the region’s demographic identity.
“What happened on August 5, 2019 was not the end in itself. In fact, that was the beginning of a process to disempower and disenfranchise the people of the Muslim majority state. Their (BJP and RSS) eyes are set on the land of Jammu and Kashmir, on our resources, on our minerals. These orders that come one after the other are an attempt towards completion of their agenda,” Suhail Bukhari, spokesperson of Peoples Democratic Party told The Indian Express.People not classified as 'permanent residents' were barred from purchasing or owning land before the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 that granted special status for J&K.
"PM @narendramodi seeks to make #JammuAndKashmir an essential part of New India's Growth story. The challenge is to liberate ourselves from the conditioning of the status-quoist mindset and build capacities to meet global benchmarks in a global India": J&K Real Estate Summit. pic.twitter.com/Ftau6VQo31
— Dr Jitendra Singh (@DrJitendraSingh) December 27, 2021
Of the 39 MoUs, 19 are related to the residential sector, eight for commercial projects and four for hospitality. The other three MoUs are for infrastructure, two for finance and three for the film and entertainment sectors.
The government said the event was aimed at encouraging people from different parts of the country to buy land or second homes in the UT.
Union minister Puri said real estate, being the second-largest employer in the country, will create innumerable opportunities for economic growth in J&K.
If the mood & enthusiasm of the participants, members of @NaredcoNational & their office bearers at the inaugural session of J&K Real Estate Summit 2021 is to go by, Jammu & Kashmir is now on a path of development & is unlocking its hidden potential. @manojsinha_ @DrJitendraSingh pic.twitter.com/jmhazQfRrC— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) December 27, 2021
But former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti termed the summit a “brazen loot” aimed at annihilating the identity of J&K.
“J&K’s special status was illegally revoked to dehumanise, dispossess and disempower the only Muslim majority state in India. GOI’s brazen loot and sale of our resources shows that the sole motive is to annihilate our identity and change the demography,” Mufti said in a tweet.Former chief minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah echoed her sentiments.
Once again the true intentions of the government are brought to the fore.While offering to secure the land, jobs, domicile laws & identity of the people of Ladakh,J&K is being put up for sale.People of Jammu should beware,“investors” will buy up land in Jammu long before Kashmir. https://t.co/2xlxoWIr0b
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) December 27, 2021
J&K L-G Sinha said a similar event will be held in Srinagar in May next year.
"Under the new J&K Development Act, the term 'being a permanent resident of the state' as a criterion has been omitted, paving the way for investors outside J&K to invest. As a result, any citizen of India can buy non-agriculture land in J&K": this is the agenda of the conference according to a report in NDTV.
Recently, the J&K administration changed land-use laws allowing re-classifying of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. In a response in Parliament, the Centre said recently that only seven plots of land had been purchased in J&K following the scrapping of special status.The Altaf Bukhari-led Apni Party also criticised the move and said development of the region should not be at the cost of domicile laws. Apni party is considered close to the Centre.