Demonstrators hold placards as they shout slogans during a protest against minority killings in Kashmir, in Srinagar on June 2, 2022 [Danish Ismail/Reuters]
The year 2022 has been tumultuous for Indian-administered Kashmir as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government continued to introduce policies that experts and locals fear are aimed at disenfranchising and disempowering the region’s Muslim-majority population.

The latest move by the government is the introduction of new rules aimed at the implementation of a law that deals with the leasing of government land.

Since August 5, 2019, when the BJP government unilaterally stripped the region of its limited autonomy and split it into two parts, land has emerged as a prime focus of the government. The region’s administration is ruled directly by New Delhi. In the past three years, it has issued a series of orders opening the region to outsiders, sparking fears that the government wants to change the demography of the region so that it is no longer Muslim-majority.

‘Attack on our livelihood’

The latest rules introduced earlier this month are being viewed by many as particularly controversial. They require local businesspeople to return land leased from the government. The rules explicitly threaten eviction for those who violate them.

The government has refused to extend the leases of native hoteliers. Instead, it wants to auction these permits. Opposition parties and local businesses have protested — the move might divest hundreds of Kashmiri hoteliers from ownership of their properties.

The land can be now leased to outsiders including former members of the Indian armed forces, war widows and migrant workers, according to the government’s notification.

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