The kind of response to the new domicile regime evoked in Kashmir was no different from that of Pakistan
The much-awaited process of issuing domicile certificates to the eligible applicants in the UT of J&K has gained momentum. Thousands have applied for this important document and thousands of domicile certificates have been issued to and distributed among them, including IAS officer Navin Chaudhary, originally from Bihar. The issuance of domicile certificates to the eligible applicants, including the Jammu-based abandoned and hapless Hindu-Sikh refugees from Pakistan, Valmikis and Gorkhas, and other non-J&K Indians, has been taken by them to mean the return of hope and joy; the “surest pledge that their night of despair and discontent is drawing to its close.” The reasons are not really difficult to fathom. The most important one is that now they will enjoy all rights in J&K, including the right to buy land or have immovable property, right to the job under J&K Government, right to vote, right to higher and professional education and right to a bank loan. They have been waiting for over 70 years to see this day.
The whole nation welcomed the historic decision of the Narendra Modi Government to do away with the temporary Article 370, discriminatory Article 35A, separate J&K Constitution and separate J&K flag, discard the archaic practice of issuing Permanent Resident Certificates to the people of the state and bring the state at par with other states of the Union for all practical purposes.
The desperate, out-of-power and out-on-the-limb People’s Democratic Party (PDP), National Conference (NC), Congress, JK Apni Party (JKAP), CPI-M, People’s Democratic Forum (PDF) and who not in Kashmir condemned in one voice the domicile rules and the process of issuing domicile certificates.
It was expected that Pakistan, which had been trying to grab J&K since its inception in 1947 on the spurious ground that “it’s a Muslim-majority region”, will oppose it and it did happen. It “rejected” the grant of domicile certificates…to the people “not originally” from J&K. “The certificates issued to non-Kashmiris, including, among others, the Indian government officials, under ‘J&K Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure), 2020’ are illegal, void and in complete violation of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, and International law, including the 4th Geneva Convention,” the Pakistan Foreign Office said. Islamabad, in addition, urged the “international community to intervene to stop India from what it called ‘changing the demographic structure’ of Kashmir.” Not content with all this, Pakistan on June 30 even approached UN Secretary-General with its objections to the new domicile policy, saying it was “unacceptable path that usurps the legal and internally guaranteed rights of the people of Kashmir” and which “seriously imperils peace and prosperity in South Asia.” What Pakistan said and did was on expected lines and it shouldn’t surprise us.
Similarly, the kind of response the new domicile regime evoked in Kashmir was no different from that of Pakistan. It was also on expected lines. The desperate, out-of-power and out-on-the-limb People’s Democratic Party (PDP), National Conference (NC), Congress, JK Apni Party (JKAP), CPI-M, People’s Democratic Forum (PDF) and who not in Kashmir condemned in one voice the domicile rules and the process of issuing domicile certificates.
The PDP, inter-alia, said: “The Government of India intends demographic flooding in J&K while plundering people of their identity and constitutional guarantees. As the agenda unfolds it becomes clear that along with the intended demographic change, the target is also jobs, natural resources, cultural identity, and everything that the people Kashmir had tried to save.”
The NC, on the other hand, dismissed as “unconstitutional and anti-people the process of grant of domicile certificates to the people not originally from J&K” and said that “the measure is aimed at disempowering the permanent residents politically and economically.” In fact, both NC president Farooq Abdullah and his son and party vice-president Omar Abdullah condemned in downright language the implementation of the domicile rules.
Interestingly, not one critic of the domicile rules referred to the settlement of Uyghur Muslims from China in 1952 and Tibetan Muslims in 1959 with full citizenship rights in the Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid area.
Farooq Abdullah urged all in Kashmir to forget all differences and get ready for a united fight to snatch the “rights snatched illegally and unconstitutionally from the people by the Government of India”. “God puts you (Kashmiris) in these trails, ask Allah not to put us so much on trails, but at the same time, don’t be afraid of trails. In this (referring to the present situation), God must have kept something better for us…We have to stay strong and only then we will be able to defeat them. We have seen days when masjids were converted into stables…I want total unity of purpose, not for the sake of elections and all this. It has to be something of purpose. Be united against the evil that is being thrust upon you. Without unity, you will have nothing…They can take the land but can’t win hearts and minds. We should not be disheartened. Today you see darkness around you. They will fall one day,” Farooq Abdullah, among other things, said. Omar Abdullah was equally furious. He said: “All our misgivings about the new domicile rules in J&K are coming to the fore. We in the NC opposed the changes because we could see the nefarious design behind the changes. The people of J&K on both sides of the Pir Panjal Mountain will be the sufferers of these domicile rules.” Omar Abdullah overlooked the fact that he became MP and Union Minister and MLA and J&K CM despite the fact that he was born in the UK. The fact of the matter is that the pro-autonomy NC demanded “immediate revocation of the domicile order and domicile rules.” Earlier, the NC demanded the restoration of Article 370 or restoration of the pre-August 5, 2019 status.
The Congress and the PDF were no less critical of the process that was set-in-motion to grant domicile certificates. The Congress, among other things, said: “Domicile rules are against the wishes and interests of people of J&K. Issuing domicile certificates to non-locals and taking any decision over the issue which can have far-reaching consequences is morally and ethically wrong.” As for the PDF, it said: “Issuance of domicile certificates to non-locals is a matter of grave concern as it would ‘change peculiar demographic identity’ of J&K, besides usurping all local job opportunities of the unemployed youth.” In short, both the Congress and the PDF, like Pakistan, the NC and the PDP demand withdrawal of the domicile order and domicile laws. The views of the JKAP and CPI-M were also identical.
However, it was Mubeen Shah, former president of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who crossed all the lines. He urged the people of Kashmir to set up village/mohalla/town committees to make sure that Kashmir became non-Kashmiri-free. He didn’t just stop here. He further urged the people of Kashmir to socially boycott tehsildars who issued and who will issue a domicile certificate to any non-Kashmiri. Mubeen Shah remained under detention for five months at the Agra prison. He, like Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, and 100s of others, was detained on August 4, 2019.
What exactly did Mubeen Shah – An NRI who runs a handicraft business in Malaysia and “has an extended family along with business associations in Kashmir” – Said: Asking Kashmiris to come together and put a collective fight against what he called “settler-colonialism”. “The village/mohalla/town committees should make it clear to any tehsildar or any administrator who’s found to have given domicile to any non-Kashmiri will be socially boycotted. The social boycott against these people should be strict. They shouldn’t be allowed to enter into the village/mohalla/town and no one should speak to them or their families or do any kind of work with them.”
Interestingly, not one critic of the domicile rules referred to the settlement of Uyghur Muslims from China in 1952 and Tibetan Muslims in 1959 with full citizenship rights in the Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid area. They also didn’t talk about the settlement of more than one lakh Bangladeshi and Rohingya Muslims in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts before and after 2008. They didn’t say that their settlements changed the demography of J&K. On the contrary, they would even declare on the floor of the assembly that “deportation of Rohingyas from Jammu will not be appropriate” and that “it’s a human issue.”
Opposition to the new domicile rules and friendly attitude of the Kashmir parties to Uyghurs and Tibetan, Bangladeshi and Rohingya Muslims must expose them and their perverted thinking and regressive ideology. What would happen if the non-Muslims set up village/mohalla/town committees across India to see to it that India became Kashmiri-free? They can’t have a regime that grants them the right to enjoy all rights across India and dismiss the non-J&K Indians pariah and aliens as was the case till August 5, 2019. The sooner they realize it, the better. Otherwise, the results could be disastrous for them.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.