The Lead The Newsfeed

Second in 5 months, Sunil meets Shah; apprises HM of public sentiment in J&K

JAMMU: In a significant development, BJP general secretary Sunil Sharma met Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Friday, their second meeting in five months which have witnessed the heightened public anguish against the saffron party in Jammu and Kashmir on a number of issues.

The meeting has come in the backdrop of the union territory administration’s recent decisions on imposing property tax, launching anti-encroachment drive, announcing new land grant rules, besides the ongoing deadlock between the government and the protesting Kashmiri Pandit employees demanding relocation from Kashmir in view of their targeted killings and spurt in terrorist attacks particularly in Jammu region. The recent success of Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir has not made things any easier for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the union territory.

While delegations of party leaders have met Home Minister twice in this period, Friday’s was the first one-on-one meeting of Shah with any Jammu and Kashmir BJP leader in last five months. Sunil Sharma, reckoned as one of the most powerful leaders of BJP in Jammu and Kashmir, was the last party leader from the union territory to meet Shah in October 2022.

“Met Hon’ble Home Minister Sh. Amit Shah Ji at his residence in New Delhi and discussed wide ranging issues of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in depth,” tweeted Sharma on Friday evening.

The two are learnt to have discussed various security, political and development issues of Jammu and Kashmir in the meeting even as Shah took stock of the public sentiment on the five issues that have bogged BJP down in last five months.

New Land Grant Rules

Jammu and Kashmir government in December last year notified the new Land Grant Rules-2022, bringing the tourism development authorities under the new rules, besides terminating all expired leases on land granted under the now repealed Land Grants Rules-1960. The administration expanded the leasing rules significantly in terms of territorial jurisdiction across the whole of Jammu and Kashmir, removed the upper cap on land area, and widened the purposes for which land could be leased, besides deciding to put all land packets to be leased, including the terminated ones, to on-line auction. The new leases will be granted for a period of 40 years, against 99 years previously, except in certain special circumstances.

J&K’s new Land Grant Rules: Also applicable to tourism sector; old leases terminated, new for 40 years max, through online auction

While the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir opposed the new rules, terming them a ploy to arbitrarily evict locals on leased land, apprehensions are also aplenty among the industrial unit holders in the union territory, who largely view these rules as an endgame for their livelihood, and that of thousands of people employed by them.

New Land Grant Rules: Despite LG’s assurances, concerns pour in from opposition, stakeholders

As the concerns started pouring in from political parties in opposition and various stakeholders across the union territory, Lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha had to reassure that new land grant rules are progressive and framed giving priority to the interest of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Anti-encroachment Drive

In a significant development, the Revenue department in January 2023 issued directions to all the Deputy Commissioners to ensure 100% removal of encroachments from State land including Roshni and Kahcharai by 31st January, 2023. The move came even while a review petition filed by the UT government remains pending in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court wherein the government has sought time to devise a policy to ensure that landless cultivators and single dwelling owners continue to remain in possession of land.

Large tracks, high-value land target of anti-encroachment drive; poor people not on priority: Bidhuri

The move triggered a strong wave of protests, some of them violent, across the union territory, with all political parties except BJP coming out hard at the LG Manoj Sinha’s administration. A group of petitioners also moved Supreme Court against the drive but got no relief, while the administration which claimed to have achieved 70% of its target on January 31, continued the drive beyond the deadline.

Around 70% success, eviction drive to continue beyond Jan 31, govt confirms

It was only when the bulldozers moved towards Nai Basti of Jammu, a strong hold for BJP, when a group of notable residents of Jammu including politicians, businessmen and priests led by a BJP leader met with Divisional Commissioner Jammu to seek safeguards in the ongoing anti-encroachment drive.

J&K eviction drive: Rana, notable Jammu residents, priests seek safeguards

The drive was put on hold a couple of days later, assumingly at the instructions of Shah. The BJP faced a lot of public anguish, with hundreds of people sitting on protest outside the party office in Jammu, while the LG administration, believed to be backed by Shah’s office, refused to budge.

Property Tax

The Jammu and Kashmir government in February announced the imposition of property tax in the urban local bodies (ULBs) of the union territory, thus ending the speculations on the matter rife for around a year now. The property tax, 5% for residential property and 6% for non-residential property will be imposed from April 1. Till now, Jammu and Kashmir was the only state/union territory in the union territory exempted from property tax, a status which it lost, three years after the reorganization of the erstwhile state, followed by extension of a number of central laws to the union territory.

J&K to impose property tax from April 1

The property tax imposition was a huge embarrassment for the BJP whose leader and Jammu Municipal Corporation Mayor Rajinder Sharma had announced in December that there would be no property tax imposed in Jammu. The BJP had even endorsed the same on its official twitter handle the same day saying ‘No Property Tax in Jammu’.

No Property Tax shall be imposed in Jammu: JMC Mayor Rajinder Sharma

With the public disappointed and anguished, BJP is finding itself in a very difficult situation, even as the LG administration is making all out efforts to recount the benefits of property tax, even as Manoj Sinha was heard saying that if people can buy iphones, they should not have any problem paying property tax, courting yet another controversy.

Protesting KP employees

The employees from the Kashmiri Pandit and Dogra Scheduled Caste communities from Jammu have been protesting for more than 260 days demanding their relocation to Jammu region after some of their colleagues died in targeted killings by terrorists in various parts of Kashmir. The terrorists have since been threatening the Kashmiri Pandit employees by releasing their ‘hit lists’.

No work, No salary: Sinha in ‘loud and clear’ message to protesting KP employees

Lt Governor Manoj Sinha in December sent out a “loud and clear” message to those protesting for transfer — no salary for sitting at home. “We have cleared their (protesting employees’) salaries till August 31, but it cannot be done that they will be paid their salaries by sitting at their homes. This is a loud and clear message to them and they should listen and understand it,” he said.

In the next two days, the BJP asserted that a transfer policy on the relocation of employees to Jammu will have to be made at ‘any cost’.

Despite Sinha’s ‘loud & clear’ message, Raina says will not allow minorities to become scapegoats

“The transfer policy will be framed and no one from Jammu be made “guinea pig” in wake of selective killings in Kashmir. Come what may, transfer policy will be framed. We will make it happen or else will leave. We will not allow the Kashmiri Pandits and Reserved Category employees to become scapegoats,” said BJP J&K president Ravinder Raina while addressing a crowd of agitating employees who had gathered outside the party office to protest, leading to a standoff between the party and Sinha-led administration that has continued till date.

Sharma’s meeting comes five days after another Kashmiri Pandit was killed by terrorists in Kashmir.

Spurt in Terrorism

Despite the claims of restoring normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, there is no let up in the number of terror incidents in the union territory, particularly in Jammu region. A total of seven people were killed in two attacks on civilians at Dangri village, leading to a huge uproar against the administration and the BJP at centre.

Home Minister Amit Shah had himself visited Jammu to review security situation and had announced that an action plan for a secure Jammu and Kashmir is being readied to be implemented in three months, even as a special team will probe all incidents of terrorism that have taken place in Jammu region in last one-and-a-half year.

Action plan for ‘Secure J&K’ in 3 months; past 18 months’ terror incidents in Jammu region to be probed: Shah

However, the Jammu and Kashmir police is yet to find out the attackers, leading to a huge embarrassment to the government. Even while in Jammu, Shah had said that the union territory has seen significant reduction in terror incidents and the number of casualties of civilians and security forces’ personnel in past three years, and that the situation in the region was by and large peaceful.


The Dispatch is present across a number of social media platforms. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for exciting videos; join us on Facebook, Intagram and Twitter for quick updates and discussions. We are also available on the Telegram. Follow us on Pinterest for thousands of pictures and graphics. We care to respond to text messages on WhatsApp at 8082480136 [No calls accepted]. To contribute an article or pitch a story idea, write to us at [email protected] |Click to know more about The Dispatch, our standards and policies