SRINGAR, Jammu and Kashmir — A, 45, has been a property dealer in Srinagar for the past twenty years, making money from the commission he earns by facilitating the sale and purchase of residential plots in the city. A’s customers have always been other Kashmiris, and he isn’t quite sure whether to resist or accept the new land laws that allow all Indians to buy land inside Jammu and Kashmir.
When asked if he would sell land to people from outside Kashmir, A was silent for a long time, pointing out that this seemingly simple question was a hard one for him to answer.
A said that he was only a “small-time broker” who was caught between history, politics, and eking out a living amid a global pandemic. From his experiences in real estate, he had learnt that lucrative transactions trumped everything else.
“The politics over the land will only be an issue with society as a whole, but individuals will take decisions based on their interests,” said A. “An individual driven by his needs will sell his property to one paying him more. It won’t matter whether that buyer is a local or an outsider.”
“The conflict in Kashmir is decades old but it never impacted our trade,” he said. “But now the conflict has taken over our occupation. We fear the future.”
HuffPost India spoke with four Kashmiri property dealers, who expressed pain and pragmatism about the changes in the laws governing property and citizenship in Kashmir, which they said were too fundamental to be affected by individual choices and sentiment.
“It doesn’t matter whether I would want to sell or not. I am just an ordinary broker,” said B, a 38-year-old broker in Srinagar. “The law matters and the new law obliges us to sell land.”
“I have received enquiries from outsiders to buy land in Pahalgam but so far I have held back,” said C, a 38-year-old broker in Pahalgam, a hub of tourism. “But I don’t know how long I will be able to resist.”
“We are caught between...