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India begins 'land bank' drive in disputed Kashmir

Indian security personnel on a deserted street in Jammu (file photo by Reuters)

Shahana Butt 
Press TV, Kashmir

The situation in Indian-controlled Kashmir remains tense months after New Delhi stripped the region of its special status. Internet is still restricted, most of the schools and universities are suspended, and security forces continue their crackdown on protesters. The measures have crippled Kashmir’s economy.

Amid all the chaos, the central government is in the process of identifying land suitable for setting up factories and other business establishments in Jammu and Kashmir with a view to creating a land bank amid a rush of investors seeking base in the state. According to reports, so far, 860 hectares of government land have been identified and the local authorities have been asked to provide details on the government land available in each district for the creation of the 'land bank.'

According to the government, dozens of investors have approached the industries department of the region, seeking approval for their investment plans. However, the government is yet to grant permissions.

While investment by outsiders was not allowed in Kashmir earlier, the removal of Article 370 has made the state attractive for investors across the country and from outside.

Since the abrogation of Kashmir’s special status in August, the fear of losing land and identity among Kashmiri people has increased rapidly. The recent comments by an Indian diplomat in New York about replicating "the Israeli model" in Kashmir has triggered more criticism and added to the existing skepticism.

So far, New Delhi has done little to address people’s concerns. Kashmiris say they will continue to express their opposition to the Indian government’s decision and will fight for their rights.

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