May 2020: Over a million victims of secularism got the right to lead dignified life in J&K after 72 years

The Modi Government on May 18, 2020, finally made public the new domicile rules for the newly-created UT of J&K

The Modi Government on May 18, 2020, finally made public the new domicile rules for the newly-created UT of J&K
The Modi Government on May 18, 2020, finally made public the new domicile rules for the newly-created UT of J&K

The Kashmir-based parties hailed the new domicile rules and thanked PM Narendra Modi and HM Amit Shah

The Narendra Modi Government on May 18, 2020, finally made public the new domicile rules for the newly-created UT of J&K. The rules were made public by the Government of J&K. The rules laid down in clear terms as to who will be eligible for the domicile certificates in J&K.

The new rules could be legitimately construed as a splendid victory of many sections of society, who were denied the right to lead a dignified life as Indian citizens. These could also be termed as a humiliating defeat of those who in collaboration with the pliable New Delhi didn’t allow these oppressed, suppressed, and discriminated against sections of the society to exercise even normal civil and political rights. These included the Congress, the National Conference, the People’s Democratic Party, the J&K Apni Party, the People’s Conference, the CPIM, the People’s Democratic Forum, and who not in Kashmir. They all condemned these new rules and demanded their role back. Some of them even tried to provoke the gullible Kashmiri Muslims telling them that these new domicile rules could be used to disempower them and change the demography of the state (read Kashmir). “This government circular exercise appears to be a verification of domiciled people of J&K similar to a National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise for J&K,” some said. So much so, almost all the Kashmir-based outfits dismissed as legally and constitutionally untenable the new domicile rules and opined that the aim of the Union Government was to weaken the hold of local officers over the state apparatus. The new system “seems a pre-emptive move to undercut any resistance from Kashmiri officials. These orders, like the revocation of Article 370, are arbitrary, coercive, and don’t serve Kashmiris,” some rattled Kashmiris said.

The Kashmiri migrants already registered with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrant) for relief or non-relief purposes are not required to register again for issuance of domicile certificates.

The fact of the matter is that many, including NC vice-president and former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, have threatened a “peaceful” movement against the new domicile rules. They have said that they would work for the restoration of the status the J&K state enjoyed prior to August 5-6, 2019. Before August 5, the state was governed under (temporary and divisive) Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and citizenship in the state was determined by (the illegal, discriminatory and inhuman) Article 35A.

Anyway, the critics of the new domicile rules said what they were expected to say. Hence, their opposition should not surprise us.

What did the new domicile rules say: The rules said: Any person who has resided in J&K for a period of 15 years or has studied for seven years and appeared in Class 10th/12th examinations in an educational institution located in the Union Territory or who is registered as a migrant by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants) in J&K as per the procedure prescribed by Government for migrants and displaced persons will be eligible for domicile certificates in J&K. The rules further said: Any person who is a child of such resident of Union Territory of J&K who resides outside the UT in connection with their employment of business or other professional or vocational reasons but whose parents fulfill any of the conditions like having resided for a period of 15 years in the UT or studied for seven years and appeared in 10th and 12th examinations or who is registered as a migrant will also be eligible for being the domicile of J&K.

Apart from migrants registered with Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants) in J&K, the Government also ordered that other bonafide persons, displaced persons or migrants and their descendants who are not registered with the Commissioner in the UT and may have been left out for a variety of reasons such as being outside J&K, not having been able to register in the past or being registered as migrants with Government elsewhere due to circumstances beyond their control, can register themselves for the purpose of getting domicile certificate only. “The Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrant), J&K, will be the competent authority for the purpose of registration of displaced persons besides Kashmiri migrants for the purpose of issuance of domicile certificates,’’ the Government order said and listed seven documents, any of which will make them eligible for domicile certificates.

The Kashmiri migrants already registered with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrant) for relief or non-relief purposes are not required to register again for issuance of domicile certificates. Others have been given the opportunity of registration for the purpose of a domicile certificate for a period of one year.

The most significant part of the government order was that it also entitled the leftover Hindu-Sikh refugee families from PoJK to obtain a J&K domicile certificate.

Others who also became eligible for domiciles of J&K included West Pakistan refugees, who were not allowed the benefit of Government jobs earlier. They were part of Parliamentary electoral roll but not erstwhile State electoral roll. They will now be covered under the 15-year residence rule or their children under the 7 years/Class 10th and 12th rule. The Safai Karamcharis (Valmikis) will also be eligible for domiciles under similar categories. Women (erstwhile) resident married to non-residents were also not eligible so far. They will now be entitled under the PRC/Children/Residency Rules.

Those who will be eligible for being domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir included Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) holders, children of persons possessing PRC, those who have resided for a period of 15 years in the UT of J&K, children of a person who has resided for a period of 15 years in the UT of J&K, a person who has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Classes 10th and 12th examination in an educational institution located in the UT, Migrants, children of migrants. Not just this, children of Central Government officials, All India Service Officers, officials of Public Sector Undertakings, Autonomous Bodies of Central Government, Public Sector Banks, officials of statutory bodies, officials of Central Universities and recognized Research Institutes of Central Government who shall have served in J&K for a total period of 10 years and children of such residents of UT of J&K residing outside UT in connection with their employment or business or other professional or vocational reasons were also declared eligible for J&K domicile certificate.

Another most significant part of the government order was that it also entitled the leftover Hindu-Sikh refugee families from PoJK to obtain a J&K domicile certificate. As per the official figures of the Government of India, about 32,000 families had migrated from Pak occupied area of Jammu Kashmir to this part of the country following Pakistani aggression in 1947. Among these displaced people, 22,700 families were settled on agricultural land in the Jammu region and 3,600 families in urban areas of J&K, mostly in Jammu, Udhampur, and Nowshera. However, 5300 such families were settled in other parts of the country, including HP, Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Meerut (UP), and Mumbai, and have been residing there since decades. Even as members of these families were eligible for the Permanent State Subject (PRC) for their members for being original inhabitants of J&K, they never applied for the same as no such requirement was ever felt by them. All these families can now apply for a domicile certificate in J&K as per the due procedure mentioned in the rules.

Yet another significant part of the new domicile rules was that the Kashmiri Hindus who had left J&K and were residing in other parts of the country were also declared eligible for the J&K domicile certificate.

No wonder then that all these sections of the society, unlike the Kashmir-based parties hailed the new domicile rules and thanked PM Narendra Modi and HM Amit Shah. Indeed, the PM and the HM have done exceedingly well by enabling these abandoned sections of society to lead a dignified life with full rights. They also deserve kudos for the direction that there shall be a timeline of 15 days for issuance of the certificate after which the applicant shall be free to approach an Appellate Authority. However, it would have been better, had they applied the Delhi model. I hope, they will consider this suggestion in the larger national interest.

Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Hari Om is former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Jammu.
Hari Om

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