By Ashraf Ali Malik
PRIOR to the influx of pastoral nomads/seminomads/Iranian/Central Asian herdsmen from Kashmir, the people of the Burzhomic era lived in various small dwellings without any apparent state structure. Agriculture was the main occupation and there seems to have been a lot of interaction between the differently situated groups. As elsewhere in the world, as soon as basic state structures appeared in different forms, farmers were reduced to serfdom. All along, for thousands of years, the peasants have been condemned to endless drudgery. Socially ostracized as a community/class, these peasants were used as plowing machines, given only the amount of food to consume that would allow them to work endlessly while the rest was uprooted. Throughout half to three quarters of the proceeds have been extracted by the state/rulers and nothing has changed with the change of regime or the change of religion of the state/rulers or the people. There was no concept of private property for the villagers and the land belonged to the state/ruler and his cronies. It was not until 1889 that the commissioner of the first colony, Andrew Wingate, recommended the granting of property rights to the peasants over the land they worked, but Walter Lawrence decided otherwise and the peasants only obtained rental rights.
For the moment, however, I would limit myself to the tiny stretches of land where the villagers would erect residential dwellings and barns for their cattle. In the subcontinent including Kashmir since Mughal times, part of the land has been designated as Abadi Village (Abadi Deh/Lal Dora) for this purpose. It is land in the collective possession and ownership of the villagers although it has now been distinctly divided and successively inherited. Villagers have always enjoyed great freedom over these areas without any interference from the state, even in metropolitan cities like Delhi where city committee/DDA rules did not apply/do not apply. But with the establishment of municipal committees in many villages in Jammu and Kashmir, construction on abadi deh land has come under a complex set of municipal and BOCA regulations. Again, while the Common Regulations Act 1956 directed state authorities to allocate more land to the Abadi village, little seems to have been done about it. And in the absence of such land surrender in Abadi Deh, villagers are forced to build on agricultural land for which another round of permissions in the form of conversion is required from the tax authorities. All of this has made the life of the villagers miserable for various reasons:
1. At least four to five clearances need to be obtained from different departments, and it takes an average of seven to ten days to obtain clearance.
2. The villager has to submit a plan to BOCA online but there is rarely anyone available to guide him through the process.
3. There is no one around to advise on setbacks, fire breaks and other building requirements at any of the municipal committee offices.
4. With little Abadi Deh land available, the villager faces difficulties in obtaining land use change permission from the tax authorities to build on agricultural land. The state has done almost nothing to allocate more land in an organized manner to Abadi village.
5. Farming in Jammu and Kashmir has always been and continues to be hard work due to extremely unpredictable weather conditions and villagers barely have fifteen days in the whole year when they can build a dwelling or a barn and it is impossible for them. to get the required permissions chain.
6. Due to the cumbersome procedures, the villagers are forced to start construction due to the short time they have, but immediately the people of the municipality rush on them without following the basic requirements to inform or inform. send written notices.
7. The newly formed municipal committees are not at all familiar with the basic regulations and procedure in carrying out their assigned work. The people who work there without basic know-how act like street thugs in view of the excessive powers with which they are invested.
8. The authorities of the municipalities engaged in a disproportionate number of daily bets and it was these daily bets that were responsible for harassing and humiliating the villagers on verbal orders from the authorities.
9. There is almost no coordination between the elected members of the municipal committees and the executive officers delegated by the government.
Under these circumstances, the need of the hour is to allocate more land to abadi/abadi deh village under common land development law and give clear instructions that abadi village does not come under the jurisdiction of municipalities as is the case with other states. Or, alternatively, abadi deh land should be removed from the scope of BOCA regulations and matters related to construction should be handled exclusively by the local elected officials of the municipality without any interference from government delegated leaders . The latter would be in the spirit of real/local democracy.
- The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the editorial position of Kashmir Observer
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