Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Sunday said abrogation of Article 370 provisions and changes in land laws allowing people from across India to purchase property in Jammu and Kashmir do not take away from the people of the Union Territory their right to decide whether or not to sell their property.
He claimed that the Kashmir-centric "so-called mainstream leaders" were feeling rattled because they would not be able to purchase properties in Jammu region so easily at low prices.
The people of Jammu will now have the advantage of choosing their buyers from a larger pan-India pool and also seek higher price, the minister said.
The newly enacted land laws nowhere allow forcible occupation or taking over of anybody's property or even purchasing property without the owner's consent, said Singh, the Minister of State for Personnel.
"If that was so, the Gupkar bungalows would have been the first to be taken over," he told reporters here.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference President Farooq Abdullah lives in a bungalow on Gupkar Road in Srinagar.
"It is a matter of common sense that abrogation of Article-370 grants people across India the right to purchase property in Jammu and Kashmir, but it does not take away from the people their right to decide whether to sell the property or not and whom to sell," Singh said.
He said Gupkar Road is the most preferred site, and, therefore, before warning the people of Jammu to protect their land from being taken away by outsiders, the "so-called mainstream Kashmir-centric leaders" should guard their own bunglows.
"The so-called mainstream Kashmir-centric leaders should first make sure to guard their own palatial bungalows constructed at one of India's most picturesque locations by the side of Dal Lake on such a majestic scale that they could give a complex to the royal palaces of erstwhile princess," the minister added.
In a gazette notification, the Centre has omitted the phrase "permanent resident of the state" from Section 17 of the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act that deals with disposal of the land in the union territory, paving the way for people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land in JK and Ladakh, over a year after the nullification of provisions under Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution.
Before the repeal of Article 370 and Article 35-A in August last year, non-residents could not buy any immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the fresh changes have paved the way for non-residents to buy land in the union territory.