NEARLY THREE decades after the migration of Pandits from the Kashmir Valley due to militancy, the National Security Council has sought data from the J&K administration on the immovable properties they left behind.
In a letter to the state’s revenue department, the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) stated that it is “preparing an assessment on Kashmiri migrants — Pandits, Sikhs and others” who were displaced due to militancy.
The letter, dated January 14, seeks area-wise data of “land holdings and immovable property of Kashmiri migrants… who are settled in other parts of J&K and rest of India”.
While it does not indicate the survey’s purpose, the NSCS has asked the administration to provide details of such immovable property currently in state custody. Additionally, it has sought details of “distress sales” and alienation of these properties.
In May 1997, the J&K Assembly had passed the J&K Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection and Restraint on Distress Sales) Act, to check “distress” sales under duress or for fear of encroachment.
The Act defines “migrant” as “any person who has migrated from Kashmir Valley after Ist November, 1989 and is registered as such with the Relief Commissioner and includes a person who has not been so registered on the ground of his being in service of the Government in any moving office, or having left the Valley in pursuit of occupation or vocation or otherwise, and is possessed of immovable property in the Valley, but is unable to ordinarily reside there due to the disturbed conditions”.
The Act also provided for district magistrates to take possession of such properties and evict unauthorised occupants.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Commissioner Secretary (Revenue) Shahid Inayatullah said: “The (NSCS) letter was received on January 24, and has been forwarded to the Divisional Commissioners.” In its letter, the Divisional Commissioner’s Office asked Deputy Commissioners to provide details on these properties within three days.
However, Deputy Commissioners of districts in North, South and Central Kashmir told The Indian Express that while the data is available at the tehsil level, collation would take time. “We will have to go through our revenue records to find details of sale and purchase deeds as have been requested by the Divisional Commissioner’s Office. This process will take a minimum of 15 days,” Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Shahid Choudhary, said.