The Mehbooba Mufti led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Omar Abdullah-led National Conference (NC) are reportedly upset and angry that 25,000 people, including people from Dalit and Gorkha community are provided domicile certificates of union territory of Jammu & Kashmir. Navin Kumar Choudhary, a Jammu and Kashmir-cadre IAS officer, has also become the first senior non-local officer to get a domicile certificate in Jammu and Kashmir under the new domicile law that was notified after the abrogation of Article 370 in the state.
The senior IAS officer Choudhary, who is the principal secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir Agriculture Production Department, was granted a domicile certificate by a tehsildar in the Bahu area of Jammu. He has been serving in the Jammu and Kashmir government for the past 26 years. With the domicile certificate, the non-locals will now be able to get residency certificate for education, employment and buying land.
“That the applicant is eligible in terms of the following clause of Rule 5 of the Jammu and Kashmir Grant Domicile Certificate (Production) Rules, 2020,” reads certificate issued by the Government which has a photograph and copy of Aadhar Card of Choudhary. About 50 refugees from West Pakistan belonging to Valmiki and Gorkha community who were living in Jammu & Kashmir but were not eligible to full citizenship as per previous laws, were also given the domicile certificate. These families had come to India after 1947 partition and settled in Jammu.
As per reports, the member of the Valmiki community were brought from Punjab in 1957 to work as cleaning staff but it was only after abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, were they given eligible to get domicile certificate and subsequently vote.
The new domicile law has replaced the 93-year-old ‘state subject law’ which barred non-permanent residents from owning land and immovable property in the erstwhile state.
Kashmiri political party oppose domicile certificates
Meanwhile, the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir PDP and NC, along with the Pakistani-sponsored Hurriyat Conference on Friday condemned the issuance of domicile certificates. They claimed that issuance of domicile certificates to non-locals is the first major step towards changing the demography of the Muslim-majority region. They also accused the RSS of hatching the conspiracy of trying to change the demography of Muslim-majority state.
These parties also issued a warning to the the Centre and the local administration of the grave consequences of the “ill-advised, arbitrary and dishonest”.
The PDP alleged that the Modi government was attempting to change the J&K’s Muslim majority character, target its unique identity and facilitate loot of its resources.
“The PDP has voiced its stern opposition to the domicile rules before. It reiterates that through such underhand means, the Government of India intends demographic flooding in J&K while plundering people of their identity and constitutional guarantees,” it said.
The National Conference chief spokesperson Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi said the party unequivocally rejected the “unconstitutional and anti people process” of granting domicile certificates to outsiders and demanded immediate revocation of Domicile Order and Rules.
He said, “All the misgivings raised after the domicile laws were changed in J&K are coming to fore with J&K government’s issuance of domicile certificates to nonresidents of J&K”. He added that the first casualty of this process will be jobs and the land holdings which were earlier reserved for the permanent residents of the erstwhile state, irrespective of their religion or region.
Muslim cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who leads the Pakistan-sponsored Hurriyat conference said that while initiating the implementation of a demographic change in Jammu and Kashmir, the government is simultaneously exploiting its natural wealth and resources and rendering local people jobless, taking advantage of the situation as people are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic and its adverse effects on their daily lives and livelihood.