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In Kashmir’s battle between ‘nationwide integrity’ and ‘identification’, land has remained a quiet catalyst round its politics – India News , Firstpost

When politics round ‘identity’ and ‘development’ has juxtaposed in Kashmir, land would all the time be the centrepiece.

View of the Pahalgam Valley in Jammu and Kashmir. Image courtesy KennyOMG/Wikimedia Commons

Land has all the time been integral to politics in Kashmir. While it has immensely formed the political developments within the erstwhile state; it continues to hold excessive on current developments as properly. It gained’t be stunning to see the long run political formations being formed across the points regarding land. The debate intensified not too long ago when the Centre notified the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third order, saying a plethora of adjustments to the prevailing land legal guidelines, thereby heralding a brand new period within the land politics of Jammu and Kashmir.

Much has been talked about how politics in Kashmir has drastically modified after Article 370 was learn down from the Indian Constitution final 12 months. While alterations with the federal construction have been numerously enumerated upon, nevertheless, such analyses of Kashmir politics would quite give it solely a perfunctory therapy if we don’t perceive how intimately land has been linked to totally different epochs of post-1947 politics. 

In order to grasp how land points have formed the politics in Kashmir all through fashionable historical past, it’s crucial to replicate upon the current adjustments which might probably change the agrarian relations in Kashmir endlessly. However, that will on no account diminish the significance land holds in Kashmir politics and we consider that land would stay a preponderant function of how we analyse the regional political dynamism from inside and with out.

The current adjustments

The central theme operating all through the not too long ago notified legislations, such because the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third order, the Big Landed Estates coverage, and the newly fashioned Domicile Rules, is that they’ve massively liberalised the standards for not solely buying the residency rights however acquiring property in the entire of the erstwhile state.

These adjustments have nevertheless invited a blended response; whereas the political events and civil society teams from Kashmir have condemned the transfer geared toward ‘disempowering’ the ‘domiciles’, they understand these adjustments geared toward altering the demographics of the area. The mainstream Indian response has been cordial to such adjustments with the ruling authorities realising its electoral guarantees to opening the gates of ‘paradise’ to them.

However, what was frequent to each of those is that they’ve personified land as one thing integral to ‘national integrity’ within the former case and ‘identity’ within the later, thus reiterating and upholding the custom of land-centric populist politics in Kashmir.

Revisiting how land points formed politics post-1947

The agrarian historical past of Jammu and Kashmir has by no means seen a day of stability. In order to grasp these nuances, it is very important replicate upon the backdrop of how totally different epochs of historical past have witnessed a pointy contestation over how land relations had been structured.

After 1947, redistribution of land was in all probability essentially the most highly effective technique to ameliorate the crises which the agrarian sector in Kashmir was engulfed with. Pre-1947 noticed political mobilisations round land points in opposition to the Dogra oppression and the regressive taxations being adopted. In such a political milieu, the historic Big Land Estate Abolition Act, 1950 was launched which radically reshaped the agrarian politics and ended feudal landlordism.

How a lot prosperity did the peasantry witness beneath the modified circumstances is nevertheless one other debate? It is, nevertheless, necessary to notice that 4,250 acres of land had been transferred to landless tillers, thus ushering a brand new period within the agrarian historical past of the state. (Aijaz Ashraf Wani, What occurred to governance in Kashmir, OUP, 2019).

Different populist tendencies have marked the Kashmir historical past in another way. In a scenario the place 95 p.c of the Muslim inhabitants was landless, the opportunity of any land restructuring was sure to learn the Muslim peasantry instantly, wrote David Devdas in The Wire.

After the early redistributions, the importance of land and politics over the problem additional intensified. It is on this course that in the course of the Sadiq’s liberalisation period, the progressive taxation system was launched to liberate the small land-owning class from the fee of land income. Another section in land politics was witnessed throughout Mir Qasim’s rule. The introduction of the Jammu and Kashmir Reform Act 1972 redefined the land possession and ceiling rights.

Sheikh Abdullah after resuming the cost in 1975 once more resorted to the sooner technique and Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act 1976 was thus handed in 1976; abolishing the absentee landlordism and redistributing the excess land. This opened one other chapter within the historical past of land reforms within the state which not solely helped Sheikh to revive his misplaced glory however normal the long run politics to function inside the populist body which was crafted a long time in the past.

Why research historical past?

If language can form the way in which we expect, historical past ought to in each approach trend our understanding of the current. It thus turns into essential to understand the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act — additionally named Roshni Act 2001 — within the backdrop of assorted historic trajectories which have formed the counters of state politics since 1947.

The Act was first handed in 2001 throughout Farooq Abdullah led NC-Congress coalition authorities. However, additional amendments had been launched by Mufti Syed led PDP-Congress coalition authorities in 2007. In the modified political milieu of the state, it was first repealed in 2018 and transaction made beneath the scheme had been probed after Article 370 was learn down in 2019.

With such historic baggage, land points in Kashmir reached new ascendency, thus stretching out their affect over the a long time. If we appraise the main political developments since 1947, land has in a single or the opposite approach been the focus of all of the regimes to materialise their ‘legitimation crises’ upon land, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances. Approaching to research and perceive historical past on this approach turns into extra necessary now like by no means earlier than. When politics round ‘identity’ and ‘development’ has juxtaposed, land would all the time be the centrepiece.

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