Jammu & Kashmir is in the news ever since Article 370 & 35 (A) was deleted by the Parliament of India on 5 August 2019. It is important to give a reference of Hindu Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to leave the Kashmir Valley in the year 19 January 1990 widely known by Kashmiri Hindus as "Exodus Day", who were either killed or forced out of Kashmir. The land left behind them was practically grabbed by politicians with High & Mighty under the shed of Roshni Act. Though theoretically, the intent of the act was to generate revenue and develop electricity for the poorest of the poor. But in true terms, it had failed to light a lamp for the development of the Kashmir valley.
In 2001, the National Conference government, led by Farooq Abdullah, enacted the Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act that sought to regularise unauthorised land.
The main objective of this Act was vesting of ownership rights to the illegal occupants against a price. The then National Conference government headed by Dr. Farooq Abdullah had claimed that the scheme would generate revenue of over Rs 25,000 crore which would then be used to upgrade the region’s electricity generation, thus bringing “roshni” into the lives of the Kashmiris.
Please note, the year of act was initiated exactly after the mass exodus of the Kashmiri Hindus during early 1990s.
Misuse of the Act
The act was misused to the effect that powerful land–grabbers who had acquired government land illegally were made the legal occupants of that government land. The beneficieries were mostly powerful politicians, bureaucrats and influential businessmen. The case has been alleged to have cause a loss of Rs 25,000 crores to the state treasury and has been called the biggest land scam in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
In 2003, the PDP-Congress government led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed amended the law to shift the cut-off date from 1990 to 2004.
“People began grabbing more and more land… or buying it from the poor… on the presumption that this will soon get regularised”.
In 2007, the cut-off date was further shifted by the Ghulam Nabi Azad government to 2007.
However, most of the transfers of the proprietary rights of the occupied lands, with drastic changes in the rules from time to time, took place in 2005-08, when Ghulam Nabi Azad was the Chief Minister and the head of the Congress-PDP coalition.
How the scam earn the Limelight?
While auditing, the Roshni scheme in the year 2013-14, the officials stumbled upon this biggest land scam as they noticed gross irregularities were committed by the top bureaucrats in order to facilitate the land deals involving VVIP’s in Jammu and Kashmir.
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