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Retired Gorkha soldiers get domicile certificates in Jammu and Kashmir

On 26th June, Navin Kumar Choudhary, IAS officer from Bihar, became the first person to get the domicile certificate

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has started issuing domicile certificates last month. More than 6,600 applicants have got the document allowing them to apply for jobs and buy property in the Union Territory. As per the reports, the majority of these applicants are retired Gorkha soldiers and officers.

More than one and a half-century wait for Gorkhas

The Gorkha community has been living in Jammu and Kashmir for more than 150 years. 68-year-old Prem Bahadur, ex-Hawaldar Gorkha Rifles, said that his father Harak Singh served in the army of Maharaja Hari Singh. He joined Gorkha Rifles with his brother Om Prakash. Since they retired from the army, they tried getting Permanent Resident Certificates, but it was of no use. “Now, my MBA son can apply for a government job. And I can die in peace knowing I served India,” he added.

Vijay Kumar Sharma, additional deputy commissioner (Revenue), Jammu said in a statement that they had issued 5900 certificated already. Around 700 certificates have been issued in Kashmir, out of which many are former Gorkha soldiers and officers.

Dr. Rohit Sharma, tehsildar of Bahu in Jammu, was quoted by Times of India saying, “In my tehsil alone, there are nearly 2,500 from the Gorkha community had served in the Indian Army and their families who got domicile (about 3,500 have applied). There are quite a few from the Valmiki community also.”

It is believed that the center’s decision to expand domicile criteria in the Union Territory was due to the protest by different groups, including Gorkha service members, Valmikis, women who married outside J&K and Pakistan refugees. The Valmiki community members came to the state from Punjab in 1957 after local sanitation workers went on a strike. The majority of the applicants lived in the country for years without basic rights that the residents enjoyed, including government jobs.

Over 200 applications daily for domicile certificate

According to the rules, those who had lived in J&K for 15 years and their children, officers with central government and central institutions, Pakistani Refugees, those who have studied in J&K for seven years and appeared in Class X and XII exams are eligible for the domicile certificate. The rules were notified on 18th May by the Jammu and Kashmir administration.

On 26th June, Navin Kumar Choudhary, IAS officer from Bihar, became the first person to get the domicile certificate. He had served in the J&K government for 26 years. The administration said they are receiving more than 200 applications daily and have received more than 33,000. PDP and NC have shown displeasure over domicile certificated to “outsiders” claiming it will change J&K’s demographics.

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