August 2019 News

Chorus For 'domicile-like Options' To Protect Land Rights Of Locals

11 August 2019
The Tribune
Arteev Sharma

Jammu: Amid the fear that scrapping of Article 370 will devalue land rights of locals in the newly created union territory (UT) of J&K, a raging debate has begun for 'a domicile-like option' on the pattern of neighbouring Himachal Pradesh 'to protect the interests of locals'. In this context, various political and social groups have started demanding 'some kind of safeguards not only to protect the economical but also cultural identity' of locals under the UT. 'We welcome the decision of announcing Ladakh a full-fledged UT but the downgrading of J&K is not acceptable. The Centre has not taken into consideration the sentiments of the Dogras and leaders of Jammu while preparing the architecture of J&K. We demand separate statehood for the Jammu region along with a domicile and Article 371 on the pattern of Himachal Pradesh,' Surinder Singh Gill, president, Yuva Rajput Sabha, said. On Friday, a core group of the Dogra Sadar Sabha also demanded 'some measures to save the identity of Dogras'. 'To save the identity of Dogras and to prevent flooding of land mafias and grabbers, an arrangement under Article 371 like (HP) and the eastern states should be adopted for both new UTs,' the core group said during its meeting. Kuldeep Sharma, a BJP leader and national vice-president of the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development has urged the Centre 'to invoke a process to have a domicile certificate on the analogy of Himachal Pradesh and with a subject that a person or family can get the certificate after residing for a minimum period of 20 years in the state, that too with a record of good character and nationalism'. 'It will help conserving the 'Dogra Riasat' and 'Dogra Virasat' as it is the old-age tradition of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state,' he said. The state BJP unit has also hinted that the Centre was already exploring options to ensure that local rights were not usurped. 'Soon, we are going to propose a domicile-like option for J&K. The local interests shall be protected. Like in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, agricultural land cannot be bought. This option is also in the mind of the Union Government,' former Speaker of J&K Legislative Assembly and senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh had recently said.