The Bold Voice of J&K

Rahul Gandhi’s promise of Wealth Redistribution

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Following Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s promise of wealth redistribution, fresh discussions are gathering much heat in India. On 21 April 2024, PM Narendra Modi brought up the issue of wealth distribution and stated that the wealth of Indians would be distributed among illegal migrants and those with more children. Wealth redistribution would lead to penury among Indians.
To understand the truth about the evils hidden in the Congress scheme, a relook into such experiments is required. In 1950, Sheikh Abdullah, ‘Prime Minister’ of Jammu & Kashmir enacted a law ‘Land to Tiller Law 1950’. This law restricted the ownership of landlords to 22.75 acres and any extra land taken over by the state and given to tillers. The most interesting part was that the tiller had to pay no compensation for the land received which is approximately 1.23 acres per tiller. On paper, this appeared to be social justice of the highest order. But in reality, this was not so. Ladakh was exempted from this law and only Jammu and Kashmir were included. Orchards, fodder land and wasteland were not included in the transfer. Implementation of the law gives credence to the fears of PM Modi regarding the wealth distribution plan of Congress. Kashmir valley had fewer lands and more Muslim landlords than Kashmiri Pandit landlords. Jammu had larger lands and mainly Hindu landlords. Corrupt bureaucracy and loopholes were utilised cynically to subvert social justice. 9000 landlords lost their land to about 1.5 lakh tillers. The landlords were mainly Hindus and the tillers were mainly Muslims. Muslim landlords either showed their lands as orchards, fodder land or barren land with corrupt bureaucracy working in cahoots. Many distributed 22 acres of land each to their family members and thus circumvented the government takeover of extra land. After this legislative exercise, Hindu landlords lost their lands. Their lands were taken away and given to Muslim tillers without any compensation! This brought overnight penury for Hindus who were rendered powerless- both economically and socially by this unjust law, hailed by the media as a shining example of social justice. By 1953, Economic experts, both Indian and foreign had declared this law as not being implemented as perceived. All the land taken without compensation from Hindu landlords was not transferred to tillers. Nearly 1 lakh acres had been vested in the state government. Most of the time, as reported by the media, tillers in the Kashmir region were offered wasteland or given fertile land only after payment of bribes to officials. The powerful people of the village controlled the fertile lands of the landlords. Thus, Hindu landlords were impoverished as their lands were taken away without compensation, the tillers had to pay bribes to officials (the majority were Muslims ) and strongmen from villages prospered. By 1953 March, it was an established fact that this social justice experiment had failed on the ground. Sardar Patel was opposed to these reforms while Jawahar Lal Nehru and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad were in favour of the above laws. Over the years, the Hindus of Jammu Kashmir were weakened by many such laws, some written, some unwritten. Kashmiri Hindus faced an exodus and by 1993, a majority had left the valley. Their lands were lying vacant and were taken over by many Muslims residing in the valley.
In 2001, Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister of J&K bought in the ‘Roshini act’, under which those people squatting on Government land would be given ownership of the land in lieu of a small payment. The majority of land which was thus given away was in the Jammu region, purchased for a pittance by squatters, mainly Muslims. In the valley, a vast portion of such lands were purchased by leaders of NC, PDP and Congress. In Jammu, this land was utilised to settle a large number of Rohingyas. It was reported that land left by Kashmiri Pandits was also given away under the Roshini Act. In 2018 the act was repealed by Satpal Malik, Governor of J&K. On 9 October, 2020, the High Court of Jammu ruled the act as illegal and ordered the return of all properties distributed under the act.
The fears that the wealth distribution scheme of Congress is aimed at taking away hard-earned wealth of Indians and looting it for their own coffers and vote banks is not unfounded. Now that PM Modi has raised this issue in an election rally, all aspects of wealth distribution will come under deep scrutiny. No nation can prosper, nor poverty eliminated, by taking away the wealth of creators and giving it away to others.

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