SC Nagar
Sharat Chander Nagar

The new Jammu and Kashmir Development Act is being celebrated as a special achievement of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra tweeted, “OUSIDERS CAN NOW BUY LAND IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR”. At least 11 land laws in the state have been amended, without inputs from residents of the state. Seven political parties, under the umbrella of the People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration, have opposed the changes.

Meanwhile, at least one long-time resident of the state has been struggling to get the mutation deed for land he inherited from his mother. Sharat Chander Nagar, resident of Rakh Hushayari, Kathua district of Jammu, has petitioned the tehsildar and other district officials several times – writing at least 17 letters over six years – on the pendency of the mutation of his four-acre land and house after his mother passed away in 2004.

In his latest complaint, sent over email on September 29 and copied also to the Prime Minister’s Office, Nagar writes that he is now 75 years old. He has been pursuing the matter legally for seven years, and in the meanwhile land-grabbers have built a boundary wall and are proceeding with other works. “I have joint problems. Please expedite the mutation deed,” Nagar writes.

Since the matter had taken much longer than normal, the family had approached the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which ordered on July 26, 2016 that the mutation process be completed in four weeks. Four years later the court’s orders have not yet been followed.

Supreme Court advocate Dr Saif Mahmood explained, “According to the Contempt of Courts Act, any willful disobedience of an order passed by a court would amount to civil contempt of court.”

Vikram, Nagar’s son, says he has followed up with the tehsildar, the district authorities and even approached the grievance cell of the state governor. “I have been told to approach them in person – I know someone who made that mistake and landed in a police station for several hours. I filed a complaint with all the documents in place to the grievance cell. Why cannot they act on the basis of those documents? Why do they need me to be physically present?”

After his mother passed away in 2004, SC Nagar approached the district authorities for the mutation of the plot, so he could assume legal rights to it. Mutation number 1150 had been completed and recorded in the district revenue record register in January 2014; in February, Nagar put in an application seeking an attested copy of the document. To his shock, Nagar was told that the mutation had not been completed, and there were no records.

In his letters to the district authorities and to the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Nagar has said that the mutation was contested by men bearing allegiance to Sohan Singh, brother of Lal Singh, former MP, who left the Congress in 2014 to join the BJP, and quit the BJP in 2018 after a controversy erupted over his support to men accused of the rape and murder of the child from a nomadic community in a temple.

The former MP’s residence, it may be mentioned, was raided in September 2020 as the CBI was probing a case against an education trust he runs, which owned land far in excess of legal ceiling limits.

Nagar says the opposite party has produced some documents in an attempt to claim that he is not his mother’s son – they have attempted to show that he is the son of his cousin, who is only a year older than him. None of those claims can be substantiated in court, yet the matter drags on.

“I’m getting on in years,” Nagar said. “How much longer must we wait?” Attempts to reach the Kathua district collector over the phone did not meet with success.  Nagar’s father served in the British Army and was posted in modern-day Pakistan. After his father’s death, during Partition, the family moved to Kathua where the government offered his mother land as a refugee. It is for this grant of land that Nagar is now trying to get the mutation deed.

Rosamma Thomas is an independent journalist


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