Posted on November 29th, 2020


The Indian government has recently abrogated the Jammu and Kashmir State Land Act, 2001 commonly known as Roshni Act. This Act was introduced in 2001 when Farooq Abdullah was the Chief Minister. The Act granted ownership of Jammu and Kashmir state land to the illegal-occupants upon payment of a sum to be determined by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir.  Most of these occupants belonged to the very poor strata of society. The basic purpose of the Roshni Act was to raise money for power projects. Initially the cut-off year for this Act was set as 1990 but later on the date was extended to 2004 and then to 2007. Now in 2020, after the abrogation of the Article 370 and 35-A the Modi government realized that without abrogation of the Roshni Act, it cannot be successful in changing the demography of the IIOJK. Media reports say that the Modi government has been feeling an unseen threat that the Roshni Act would in some way or the other help and support the Muslim and the Sikh population of the area because this Act provided them a lot of privilege over the Hindu population. Now abrogation of this Act would leave thousands fearing that they will become landless. 

The members of the Gujjar and Bakarwal communities would be the worst victim to this abrogation of the Roshni Act; say experts on Jammu & Kashmir affairs. Gujjar and Bakarwal are two nomadic tribes of Jammu and Kashmir. It is said, They are wedded with nature and in close bondages with their traditions.” The people from Gujjar and Bakarwal tribes of Jammu and Kashmir are basically herders of goats and sheep.  They spend their winters in the low hills of the Siwalik range with their herds because it is easier for them to get good grazing grounds for their herds in the dry scrub forests. It is said that in IIOJK, the earth is shrinking for Gujjar and Bakarwal tribes because most of them are the Muslims. Gujjar and Bakarwal communities have historically been poor and landless in IIOJK. The situation has become more painful for them after BJP’s coming in power. The extremists of BJP are seriously working on different plans of wiping them off the Jammu Kashmir Valley. Recent abrogation of the Roshni Act is also a part of the same inhuman planning.

The BJP extremists are of the opinion that in the name of the Roshni Act a ‘Land Jihad’ has been in process against the Hindus for the last many years. Now the abrogation of the Roshni Act has defeated the Muslims in that ‘Jihad’. In Arabic language the word ‘Jihad’ stands for a war fought against the non-Muslims. They blame that as part of a ‘calculated move’ the Muslims purchase houses in Hindu-dominated colonies and construct mosques on government land in Jammu and Kashmir and use the name of the Gujjars and the Bakarwals as the buyers. Now after abrogation of the Roshni Act they won’t be able to do so. Before this the Hindu extremists have been accusing the Muslims of trapping and marrying the Hindu girls after ‘apparently’ falling in love with them. They say with particular reference to the Jammu & Kashmir Valley that ‘Land Jihad’ has replaced ‘Love Jihad’ rhetoric in the Valley of Jammu & Kashmir.

The on ground realities with reference to the relationship between the Hindus and the Muslims living in the Jammu Kashmir Valley are altogether different. There is nothing like the ‘love jihad’ or the ‘land-jihad’ planned by the local Muslims against the other religious communities of the valley. Usually one finds no differences and no clashes between the people belonging to the two religious communities. The Aljazeera published an article in May 2018 which must be no doubt an eye-opener to all those who propagate Hindu-Muslim conflicting relationship in the valley. Here is an extract from that article. Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – Unaware of the tragedy that happened to his family, five-year-old Rohit Koul played in the courtyard while his three elder siblings sat in a dimly lit room of their house in Lavdoora village, in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district. The children have not spoken much after their mother, Baby Koul, died three months ago due to chest disease. Nearly a year ago, their father, Maharaj Krishan, also died a natural death. At a time of strained Hindu-Muslim ties in India, this unity in a remote village in divided Kashmir is exemplary.” It is also a fact noteworthy that villagers of differing faiths also attended Baby Koul’s last rites according to the Hindu tradition.

Such type of communal harmony is unfortunately neither appreciated nor encouraged by the BJP extremists. They always keep on fanning the so-called differences between the Hindus and the Muslims. Things had never been as bad as they are now in the Modi regime. In April 2017, the Pew Research Center in a study report ranked India the fourth-worst country for religious intolerance out of 198 nations. This September the ANI published a report bearing a statement of Bhimla Pandita who lives in Pulwama district. She said, We don’t have any problem here. All the communities treat each other with respect here, and there is a lot of brotherhood among people. If anybody needs help, people help them irrespective of religion.” The same report referred to Tanvir Ahmad also who lives in Bhimla’s neighborhood. Tanvir said talking to the ANI, I have always celebrated all the Hindu festivals with the same enthusiasm as the Islamic festivals. In our locality people of all religions live in harmony. I have always celebrated Holi and Diwali with as much enthusiasm as Eid.” Same were the thoughts expressed by Akash, another resident of the same area. He said, I have lived whole of my life in Kashmir and I have never faced any communal discrimination. There is a brotherhood among people in Kashmir and everybody treats us with respect. I never felt any inconveniences living in the state.” If things are going all well and the people of the Jammu-Kashmir Valley are having no trouble and inconvenience in living together; why Modi sarkar is eager and insistent on abrogation of different old laws in the valley; it is the most frequently asked question there.

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