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Oh, To Buy A Home In Srinagar...!

May 29, 2024 12:30 IST
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Syed Firdaus Ashraf/ tried to buy a house on his recent visit to Srinagar. This is what he discovered.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/

Indians are rejoicing that Article 370 has been repealed by the Narendra D Modi government and Jammu and Kashmir has become a part of India like any other state, nothing special about it.

One of the main drawbacks for Indian citizens due to Article 370 was they could not buy land or a house in the former state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Statistics (external link) shared by Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai stated that 185 outsiders -- non residents of Jammu and Kashmir -- have bought land in J&K since the abrogation of Article 370.

On assignment to cover the Lok Sabha election in the Kashmir Valley, I tried to buy a house in Srinagar.

As I walked into a plush, newly-constructed housing society in Srinagar, I was welcomed with warm greetings by the salesperson appointed by a local Kashmiri builder.

"Please take a seat," he offered.

As I rested in the plush chair, the salesperson asked: "Are you from Jammu?"

I said, "No."

"So where are you from?"


Pat came the query: "Do you have a domicile certificate of Jammu and Kashmir?"


The salesperson then ruefully told me that he would not be able to sell the flat to me until I secured a domicile certificate of J&K.

I told him that after Article 370's repeal any Indian can buy property in Srinagar.

I showed him news articles that said so.

"As far as I know, you are not allowed to buy property until you procure a domicile certificate from Srinagar," he insisted.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Doubly sure."

I was taken aback by his "doubly sure" insistence and gave him my phone number, asking him to check with his company lawyer and come back with an answer.

A week later, there was no response.

When I met a journalist friend later, he said maybe the realtor was not interested in selling me the flat for my safety.

"How come?" I asked.

He gave the example of jeweller Satpal Nischal who obtained a domicile certificate and was about to buy land in Srinagar.

The Resistance Front, a terror outfit (external link), got whiff of the deal and shot him dead (external link).

The TRF claimed responsibility for the killing and issued a statement, 'Any Indian national irrespective of faith, caste or colour who comes with the intention of settling here, will be treated as an agent of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and not as a civilian.'

TRF did not spare Mr Nischal even though he had been living (on rent) in Kashmir for the last three decades, even at the peak of militancy.

TRF is run by journalist turned terrorist Mukhtar Baba (external link) based out of Pakistan.

Post the abrogation of Article 370, TRF feels the Indian government wants to change the demographics of Kashmir by having non-Kashmiris settle in the Valley.

"The feeling among Kashmiris is that India wants Kashmir without the Kashmiri population, therefore they want Indians to come and invest more and more money in property in Kashmir," a local later told me.

There was no way to fact check the legal details of buying a house in Srinagar as I had limited time.

But I realised that terrorists rule by fear in the Valley and they will ensure this 'fear' never disappears from your mind if you are an outsider trying to buy a home.

And any outsider who dares to challenge these terrorists, like Mr Nischal, will find their end hastened.

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