Legal Document No 12
(l) The custom of “khodkasht’`. This is a system by which the State farms a part of the village lands itself. Advances are annually made to the persons employed for the purpose, but it is notorious that they embezzle the money, and cultivate the land with forced labour, and seed extorted from the villagers.
(2) The custom of “leri”. This is a system of paying sepoys and others by remission of rent, instead of in coin and, for some reason not easily explained, is much disliked.
(3) Each group of ten houses in Jammu territory will no longer as before, be obliged to supply one Sepoy or other Government servant; forcible enlistment generally is abolished; and the role of obliging families to provide substitutes for deserters in done away with.
(4) The customs duty on rice and other provisions brought into Srinagar for sale is reduced from two annas in the rupee to half an anna, in other words from 12 1/2 to 3 l/8 per cent.
To understand the severity of this tax it must be explained that Government itself is the principal grain dealer, and fixes a permanent rate at whicl1 grain is sold. Thus the rate for unhusked rice in Re. 1-4 (English) per kharwar, equivalent to about 10 annas a man. If a Zemindar sends rice to market, he can ask no more for it than 10 annas a man, and has in addition to pay the customs contractor l l/4 Anna before he can offer it for sale. Under these conditions it is clear that the remission of three-fourths of this tax will benefit the producer, and not the ccr.sun or, who will pay the some price for his rice as before.
(5) The next impost remitted is also in favour of Zeminder. Every large village community in Kashmir comprises a “Zillahdar,” or “Harkara,” whose business it is to report the misdeeds of his fellows. The Durbar affect to look on these officials as rural police; but as they are occasionally women, and have no
powers beyond reporting, spies would be a better name for them. They are paid by a cess of I 1/2 per cent on the gross produce of the land. Some years ago it occurred to Wazir Punna that the Zillahdars were making too much money, and he therefore made their chief, the Harkara-Bashi (head-bringer of news) pay an annual sum to the treasury. This has been raised till it now amounts to 60,000 Chilki rupees (37,500 English) a great deal more than the estimated total value of the cess from which it is supposed to be paid. This most obnoxious impost is now abolished, but the Zillahdars are warned that they must continue to send in reports, and that if found extorting any thing beyond the legitimate 1 112 per cent they will be punished.
(6) The tax on the sale of horses in Kashmir, called “Zari-nakas”, which at one time amounted to 50 per cent of the purchase money, is abolished.
(7) The tax on “Ekhas” playing for hire to Sailkot, which amounted to Re. 1-11 on a total of Rs. 2-10 annas is abolished, and some other minor dues are remitted.