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Roshni act was enacted to transfer the ownership of state land to encroachers

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A social media post claiming that former Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah introduced the Roshni Act to allocate properties of Hindus who fled Kashmir, to Muslims is being shared widely. Through this article, let’s fact-check the claim made in the post.

Claim: Roshni Act was legislated to allocate properties of Hindus to Muslims.

Fact: Roshni act deals with state land which is encroached irrespective of the religion of the encroacher and is not intended to transfer the properties owned by Hindus to Muslims. The act envisages to transfer the ownership rights to the occupants irrespective of their religion. However, in 2018, then Governor of the state repealed the act. Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE.

To transfer ownership rights to occupants of state land upon payment of a fee prescribed by the government, Jammu & Kashmir government led by Farooq Abdulla back in 2001 enacted State Land (Vesting Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001.

The government had brought in this act to mobilise funds for the construction of hydel power projects, and hence the act was also called Roshni Act. The act set 1990 as the cut-off date, which means occupants who encroached government land before 1990 would be eligible to get the ownership rights. A committee set up by the government determined the price of the land taking various factors into account. This establishes the fact that the Roshni act just deals with state land which is encroached irrespective of the religion of the encroacher and is not intended to transfer the properties owned by Hindus to Muslims.

However, in 2005, the PDP-Congress coalition government relaxed the cut-off date from 1990 to 2004 through an amendment. And later Gulam Nabi Azad government further extended the cut-off date to 2007 through another amendment. Also, this amendment specifies price slabs according to the size of the land. As per the amendments, agricultural land can be transferred to the occupants by paying a mere sum of Rs. 100 per kanal (1/8th of acre).

However, the CAG in its 2014 report flagged many irregularities regarding the price determination by the committee. And subsequently in 2018, the then Governor of the state repealed the act amidst allegations and for the act not achieved the specific targets. Further in 2020, the Supreme court held the Roshni Act unconstitutional.

To sum it up, the Roshni act is enacted to transfer the ownership of state land to the encroachers, not to allocate properties of Hindus to Muslims.

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