Bus passenger from Pakistan stakes property claim

An inch often leads to a mile

‘Tis the season for staking claims to ancestral property.

In an interesting turn of events, a Kashmiri woman, who came back after 56 years in the first historic Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus from the other side of Kashmir on April 7, has approached the State Government for restoration of her ancestral property.

After spending nearly a week with her relatives and visiting different places, Fareeda in consultation with her lawyer, Abdul Khaliq Sheikh, last week approached the Custodian Department and moved an application seeking the notification by which the property had been declared as evacuee’s property.

“Finally I’m back after 56 years to claim what to me is and always has been my own,” Columbian University alumni Fareeda said

Fareeda, on the other hand, observed that all these legal intricacies could have avoided. “All of this could have been avoided had our rights been granted to us. Anyway, I’m leaving on the 21st of this month and have given general power of attorney to my lawyer to plead the case,” she said.

Interestingly, the Fareeda’s case has assumed significance for being the first case of its nature. It is also bound to trigger a wave of debate over the status of custodian land, which is about 60,000 kanals in Kashmir valley alone. [Daily Excelsior]

India must respect property rights. But in this case, there is the basic question of whether a Pakistani citizen can own land and immovable property in India. Foreigners generally cannot own land in India. It is ominous that the very first bus, that was launched to allow Kashmiris from ‘either side of the LoC’ to meet their relatives has thrown up this controversial passenger. The Pakistani authorities have been very careful in their ‘screening process’ indeed.

Under India’s constitution, the state of Jammu & Kashmir is accorded a special status — one of the terms of which is that unless they are residents of the state, Indian citizens cannot own land in Kashmir. If the Pakistani passenger’s claim is successful, it will be an irony that what it denies to its own citizens, India is prepared to offer to Pakistani ones.

6 thoughts on “Bus passenger from Pakistan stakes property claim”

  1. Well, this isn’t new issue. India govt has a age old law which was initially passed to unite people who got to the other side during 1948 war and this law was supposed to have been scraped after few years but mysteriously it continued and many terrorist and pakistanis miss-used this law to get permanent residential status in J&K, India. 3 or 4 years back pil was filed by some Indian in supreme court and supreme court has taken up the case but i don’t know about the outcome of this pil. Its irony that rest of Indians can’t buy property in J & K but people from pok and pakistanis can.

  2. From what I remember, non-residents cannot buy land in J&K. This is different from somebody trying to establish legal claim to the land which he/she already owns. Therefore, if Fareeda’s claim is valid we should respect that!

  3. Ashish,

    I fully agree with you on the need to respect property rights. I also believe that India should not change its fundamental principles just to accomodate the whims of a troubled, failing state next door.

    Besides, I do not see how when Pakistan refuses to accept the legality of the J&K’s accession to India, how its citizens can take recourse to Indian law to get what they want.

  4. Nitin,
    Good point! I am not sure if our courts should consider nationality of a person and politics of person’s country to decide what is right or wrong. It can get pretty ugly. If J&K’s legislature or Union Parliament passes a law invalidating all property claims by people of Pakistan in India then that’s a different story!

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