Real estate business in Jammu and Kashmir – and in Kashmir region particularly – has flourished over the last few years. It is the only business which has weathered two recent lockdowns. One after the abrogation of Article 370, the other after the pandemic. Instead, Kashmir’s real estate business has witnessed tremendous expansion. We may understand this phenomenon if we analyze who has monopoly over this business. Many businessmen involved in it do not figure in the list of tax payers. Their transactions are not routed through banks. All payments are through unaccounted cash. From where does this unaccounted money come?
This is no secret in Kashmir. Most businesses here are monopolised directly or indirectly by beneficiaries of the conflict economy. All businesses here cannot be tarred with the same brush. There are many who have invested their blood and sweat and grew steadily, without taking shortcuts. Those who have flourished on foul play are the big fish. They have monopoly over businesses. They are few but very powerful. The real estate business flourished over unaccounted black and hawala money. In the first phase of militancy, it was pumped in by Pakistan. The beneficiaries invested it in real estate and got huge returns. The entire separatist leadership is directly or indirectly involved in real estate. The ruling elite followed suit. A significant number of former ministers, political leaders and legislators are in this business. Their benami properties are unprecedented.
Recent MOUs between the UT administration and real estate tycoons of the country have promised huge investment in real estate in Kashmir. The politicians and businessmen have strongly criticized the move. They claim that opening up J&K for real estate investors of the country is intended to change Kashmir’s demography, which LG Manoj Sinha has strongly refuted. Without further elaborating on this, let our esteemed readers think and ponder.