No wonder that all in Kashmir, including National Conference, People’s Democratic Party, and Congress, continue to oppose the domicile definition.
The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has been witnessing one major development after another since March 31, 2020. All these developments have surely weakened the hold of Kashmir and Kashmiri’s leadership over the state polity and integrated further J&K into India. A brief reference to these developments of far-reaching importance would be in order.
On March 31, the Union Home Ministry defined who would be the J&K domiciles and who would be eligible for the State Government jobs in J&K. The Union Government reserved all, barring the state-cadre, posts for the J&K youth. It must remain a matter of grave concern that the Union Home Ministry walked into the trap of vested interests in Kashmir and their handful of agents in Jammu and on April 3, amended the domicile definition, saying that all the State Government jobs, including the state-level, would be the sole preserve of the J&K youth. The vested interests in Kashmir and some misguided Jammu youth succeeded. They had the last laugh. They had raised a hue and cry that the recruitment policy as announced by the Union Home Ministry was highly biased towards the J&K youth and that they were eligible only for the level-4 posts. This was not true. This was all a false propaganda. This was a conspiracy of the sorts hatched by status quo lobbyists.
The former Chief Ministers were entitled to get a car with 250 liters of petrol per month, medical facilities, driver, furnished residence, Rs 35,000 per annum for furnishing of residential accommodation, telephone with free calls up to the value of Rs 48,000 per annum, free electricity to the extent of Rs 1,500 per month and staff.
The truth is that the J&K youth were eligible for all the Class IV and district and divisional cadre posts and that only the state cadre posts (about 10%) were thrown open to all across India. It would not be out of place to mention here that someone in the Home Ministry had drafted the policy in a way that gave an opportunity to the vested interests in Kashmir and some innocent Jammu youth to mislead that J&K youth that they were eligible only for the class IV posts. Paras’ 6 and 7 of the Union Home Ministry Notification had clearly stated that all the district and divisional-level cadre were the sole preserve of the J&K youth. It is important to note that a section of the media had also created an impression through its reports that the Ministry of Home Affairs had opened all J&K jobs except level-4 posts. The mind-boggling amendment did embolden the votaries of separate dispensation in Kashmir and their cronies in Jammu. And, it was not in the best interest of the Nation and UT of J&K. It is hoped the Union Home Minister Amit Shah would look into the whole issue and take to task the person who drafted the domicile criteria in a dubious manner.
Anyway, the Union Home Ministry’s domicile definition did benefit many in J&K. It benefited Hindu-Sikh refugees from Pakistan living in Jammu since their migration in 1947, Valmikis, Gorkhas, Punjabis’ and migrant labour. In other words, the domicile definition made lakhs of families living in Jammu since, decades J&K domiciles. The definition made them eligible for all the rights in the UT of J&K. Besides, it also laid down the criteria indicating who from the rest of the country would be considered a J&K domicile and when. It talked about the children of the Central Government employees and children of the employees working with public banks, Central Research Organizations, Central Universities and so on. Notwithstanding the amendment, the J&K domicile definition was a great step forward. No wonder then that all in Kashmir, including National Conference, People’s Democratic Party, and Congress, continue to oppose the domicile definition.
The 9 other major developments the UT of J&K witnessed
The other eight major developments which the UT of J&K witnessed included an amendment in Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature Members’ Pension Act, 1984 (JKSLMPA) on April 1. As a result, all special perks and facilities to the former J&K Chief Ministers were withdrawn. The amendment also said that in future the Chief Minister of and Ministers in J&K will have to pay income tax from their own pockets. As per Section 3-C of the JKSLMPA, the former Chief Ministers were entitled to get a car with 250 liters of petrol per month, medical facilities, driver, furnished residence, Rs 35,000 per annum for furnishing of residential accommodation, telephone with free calls up to the value of Rs 48,000 per annum, free electricity to the extent of Rs 1,500 per month and staff.
The third major development also took place on April 1. That day, Kashmir (read Kashmir-based Chief Minister) lost control over all the universities in J&K, including Kashmir University, Jammu University, two Agricultural Universities (one each in Jammu province and Kashmir Valley), Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Awantipora (Kashmir), and Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (BGSBU), Rajouri (Jammu). To be more precise, the role of the Chief Minister in university affairs was reduced to zero. Hitherto, the J&K Chief Minister used to be the Pro-Chancellor of Kashmir University, Jammu University, and Agricultural Universities and Chancellor of IUST and BGSBU. The April 1 changes in the Universities Acts abolished the position of Pro-Chancellor and made Lt Governor the Chancellor of all the Universities in J&K.
April I witnessed fourth significant development as well. The case in point is the amendment in the J&K Migrant Immovable Property (Prevention, Protection, and Restraint of Distress) Sale Act of 1997. The amendment omitted sub-section 2 of Section 6 of the Act and empowered the “Competent Authority” for Suo Motu action. In other words, the April 1 amendment empowered the Competent Authority to evict unauthorized occupants of properties left behind by the Hindus in Kashmir in 1990. The minuscule minority of Hindus and 1000s of Jammu Dogras and Punjabis had quit Kashmir on January 19, 1990, to escape their physical liquidation and save their religion, culture, and honour.
In other words, the Union Home Ministry repealed the J&K Golf Development Act, which had been enacted by the Omar Abdullah-led NC-Congress coalition government in 2013.
A day later (April 2), the UT of J&K witnessed the fifth development. On April 2, Kashmir (read Chief Minister from Kashmir) lost control over the J&K National Law University (JKNLU). In fact, that day, the J&K NLU Act of 2018 was amended. As per the Gazette Notification issued by the Union Home Ministry, amending the JKNLU Act 2018, the term Chief Minister was substituted by “The Chief Justice” in Section 8 while the term “The Chief Justice” was substituted by “The Chancellor”, in Section 12, sub-section (1), clause (d). The Act was amended to bring the JKNLU at par with the regulations for such institutions in other parts of the country.
The sixth development was the Amendment in Section 10 of the J&K Public Safety Act (PSA), 1978 on April 2. The change revoked the legal protection granted 42-years-ago and said that all those who have been booked under the PSA could now be easily put in any jail in any part of the country.
The seventh development was the Amendments of Section 5 of the J&K Shri Shiv Khori Shrine Act of 2008, and J&K Shri Mata Sukrala Devi Ji Shrine and Shri Mata Bala Sundari Shrine Act of 2013. These Amendments of April 4 virtually ended the control of the J&K Government (read Kashmir) over all these Shrines. These amendments said that non-J&K personalities could also play role in the management of these three shrines; that the affairs of these Shrines will be managed on the lines of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board and Shri Amarnath Shrine Board; and that local legislators won’t have any direct interference.
The eighth development was the April 7 decision of the Union Home Ministry to dump the Golf Club Development and Management Authority of J&K. The ministry said that this body had “Only looked after the comfort of politicians and bureaucrats”. In other words, the Union Home Ministry repealed the J&K Golf Development Act, which had been enacted by the Omar Abdullah-led NC-Congress coalition government in 2013. Under this Act, the Chief Minister was made the ex-officio Chairman of the Authority and Minister for Tourism Vice-Chairman.
And the ninth very significant development took place on April 10. That day, the government issued an order that said that the Civil Secretariat will continue to function in Jammu, that employees from Jammu working in the Secretariat will function from Jammu and that all the employees from Kashmir working in the Secretariat will be sent back to Kashmir. It happened for the first time after 1872, when Dogra Maharaja of J&K, Ranbir Singh, introduced the practice of Secretariat move from Jammu to Kashmir during the summer and back to Jammu during the winter. The order also said that all the move offices outside the Secretariat will also continue to function in Jammu and that only the employees from Kashmir will be sent back to Kashmir. This order shocked the Kashmiri leaders like NC Vice-President Omar Abdullah and electrified the political scene of Jammu for obvious reasons.
All these developments augur well for the nation and the people of the state. It is hoped that the Union Home Ministry would review its stand on the domicile definition and implement its March 31 notification so that all the Indians are treated at par in the UT of J&K and the vested interests in Kashmir defeated.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.