With the ruling PDP succumbing to pressure from alliance partner BJP, a government bill which aims at preventing land transfer to any non-state subject was referred to a Select Committee even though opposition National Conference, Congress and CPI (M) supported the legislation in the Assembly. The bill to amend Jammu and Kashmir Alienation of Land Act and the Transfer of Property Act was referred to the Select Committee after Revenue Minister Basharat Bukhari moved a motion in this regard in the House. While on the last day of the Budget session, Legislative Assembly witnessed uproar over the bill aimed at making changes to end ambiguity in the twin land laws. The bill had been brought by the government itself, but two BJP MLAs moved an amendment, seeking that the bill be referred to a Select Committee. The bill was aimed at plugging any legal loopholes in the Transfer of Property Act that would ensure that no land is transferred to non-state subjects in Jammu and Kashmir. Entire opposition, including independent MLAs, was in support of passing the bill in the Lower House. However, under pressure PDP voted in favor of its coalition partner and pushed the bill to select committee. BJP member, R S Pathania had advocated the bill to be referred to the select committee, arguing that it should not be passed in haste. He was contested by state Secretary CPI-(M), M Y Tarigami who explained the purpose of the bill to Jasrotia. Quoting law books is good but I think the MLA does not know the purpose of the bill. The bill is aimed at removing ambiguities in the land laws, judgments and is no way against the Jammu region, Tarigami said in his remarks. Amid the chaos over the bill, Speaker, Kavinder Gupta allowed debate on the bill and gave each member two minutes to speak. Leading a frontal attack on BJP members, Congress Party Leader Nawang Rigzin Jora said such a drama by ruling MLAs has never been witnessed in the history of the House. He was interrupted by Minister for Social Welfare Sajad Gani Lone who came to the rescue of BJP members and asked opposition members not to “cry” in the House. He said the government cannot force its opinion on anybody. “Kindly do not belittle this Assembly and the democracy. We cannot force our opinion on anybody,” he said adding that the idea of getting the bill to the House was purely a democratic exercise. As soon as Sajad finished speaking, NC’s working president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the discord over the bill was the outcome of “inexperience” in the cabinet. He said it was after the approval of the draft by the cabinet that BJP started understanding its implications. There has been a lot of drama in the ongoing Assembly season and people have been witnessing the dram of the democracy.
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