Amidst the anti-encroachment drive in Jammu and Kashmir to retrieve State land, DPAP chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday said if his party is elected to power, it will bring back the Roshni Act under which the ownership rights were given to the occupants.
The act was enacted in 2001 by the National Conference government, and was repealed in November 2018 by then governor Satya Pal Malik.
Azad told reporters in Anantnag district of south Kashmir that the anti-encroachment drive to retrieve land given to people under the act should be stopped. “If we form the government, then we will implement the Roshni scheme once again.”
The Roshni Act, officially known as Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants) Act, 2001, was enacted by the Farooq Abdullah government. The law granted the ownership of encroached land to the occupants to raise funds for different power projects of the government.
The law was modified during Azad’s chief ministerial tenure from 2005-2008.
Azad also addressed his party workers Thursday and promised to the “people that if my party is elected to power, we will re-enact the Roshni Act in the assembly.”
In 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report pointed out that many political persons from different parties had been benefited under the Act.
In November 2018, then governor Satya Pal Malik repealed the Act. On October 9, 2020, the High Court of J-K and Ladakh declared the Act illegal, unconstitutional and unsustainable , and ordered a CBI probe.
Later, the government decided to retrieve such land.
“Today, notices are being served, the land is being retrieved. I had passed the bill of Roshni in the assembly keeping in mind the poverty of the people here. Be it Hindus, Muslims, Kashmiris, Gujjar-Bakerwals, they possessed lands for over 100 years when there were only two persons in the house.
“Now, they have grown in numbers and cannot be accommodated on those lands. They cannot build houses or farm them. So, I made them owners of the government land,” he said.
The law was passed in the assembly by elected representatives, by an elected government, he said.
“This decision was taken to end the poverty of the people, so that they at least have a house or some land or for a small shop or a kitchen garden. Which storm was caused by it? We did not give land to some other country, but our own people. The land is for the people,” the former Union minister added.
In the last few weeks, the J-K administration retrieved hundreds of kanals of state land which was under the occupation of the people including several high-profile persons.