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Hurriyat shutdown against new land laws disrupts normal life in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Oct 31 (PTI) Normal life in the Kashmir valley was affected on Saturday due to a shutdown called by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat Conference to protest the new land laws notified by the Centre for Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

Earlier this week, the Centre cleared the decks for people from across the country to buy land in the union territory by amending several laws.

Most shops, petrol pumps and other business establishments were shut in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, the officials said.

Public transport was off the roads across the city, but private cars and autorickshaws were plying in some areas. Similar reports were received from other districts of the Valley, they said.

Security personnel were deployed in strength in vulnerable areas of the city and elsewhere in the Valley to avoid any untoward incident, according to the officials.

The Hurriyat had issued the call for the shutdown on Wednesday, a day after the Centre notified the new land laws.

One after the other, laws are being invented and amended by New Delhi and 'forcibly thrust upon' the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the Hurriyat said.

'Rather than pursue a peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue involving millions of humans living in the uncertainty of a conflict as per their will and to ensure peace in the region, all attempts are being made to undermine that possibility by the Government of India and instead, a policy of permanent demographic change is aggressively being pushed - to snatch our land, destroy our identity and turn us into a minority in our own land,' it said in a statement.

'People of J&K completely reject and strongly condemn these appalling imperial measures... To register their strong resentment against these anti-JK people laws, and demanding their immediate withdrawal, people will peacefully observe a shutdown on Saturday,' it said.

In a gazette notification issued on Tuesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs made several changes to the land laws, including one that allows the use of agricultural land for setting up facilities of public purpose.

The most important amendment has been made in the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act that deals with disposal of land with the Centre omitting the phrase 'permanent resident of the state' from Section 17 of the law.

This paves the way for people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land in the union territory, over a year after the nullification of provisions under Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution. PTI SSB DIV DIV