Laws allowing all Indian citizens to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir, which was previously reserved for locals only, have come into force in the country in an effort to stimulate economic growth in the region.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification enabling a host of new changes to the former state’s land laws, including removing the phrase “permanent resident of the state” from Section 17 of the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act. The move makes it possible for Indian citizens to purchase land in the union territory and has raised concerns about the Center hampering the former state’s special status that it has enjoyed for decades.

A Home Ministry official defended the move by claiming that the latest changes to the land regulations are a “crucial part of structural changes” to ensure that the region is “governed like any other part of the country.”

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The Indian government has argued that the change will help to stimulate investment in the area and help to promote development as they hope it will open up hospitality and tourism in an area that’s been economically behind the rest of the country’s regions. (RT)