India

New Domicile Law Worries Kashmir Valley, Jammu For Different Reasons

New Domicile Law Worries Kashmir Valley, Jammu For Different Reasons

Some people feel the new domicile law was designed to force homogenisation in the area (Representational)

New Delhi:

New domicile rules in Jammu and Kashmir are creating uneasy moments in each the two principal regions of the newly-formed union territory. However, these apprehensions are for different reasons.

People in the Kashmir Valley claim the new law is designed to change the territory's demography, while those in Jammu fear an influx of population from border areas.

The centre has, so far, issued four lakh domicile certificates. According to available data, 75 per cent of these (or three lakh certificates) have been issued in Jammu.

"Almost 85 per cent of domicile certificates issued have been given to people who already had state subjects," Pawan Kotwal, Principal Secretary (Revenue), told.

According to Mr Kotwal, the number of certificate issued to refugees from western Pakistan is not, for now, very large. "Those who are applying, we are granting them certificates," he added.

The Home Ministry has said that so far around 20,000 certificates have been issued to people from that region. A further 2,000 have been given to people from the Valmiki community and 700 to the Gorkhas.

According to the ministry, most of these people live in the Kathua, Samba and Jammu regions, while a few of the Gorkhas reside in the Baramulla area.

The centre had said domicile rules were modified to benefit the marginalised and minority groups in Jammu and Kashmir, but the people aren't very happy.

"Nowhere in the country is a domicile law as weak as it is here. Anyone with the help of 10th and 12th school certificate can get one," a senior bureaucrat complained.

According to him, the number of refugees from western Pakistan applying for domicile certificates is low because many already have PRC (permanent residence certificate) and, per law, every PRC is now entitled for domicile law.

The western Pakistan refugee community consists of members from Hindi-speaking and Sikh communities who migrated after the 1947 partition.

The Valmikis also migrated - from Punjab. "They have been staying here for years now, although their numbers are not much. But they also need to be given rights in terms of education and jobs," a senior North Block bureaucrat said.

According to him this legislation has ensured rights on the basis of social welfare.

"Their children have been staying here and speaking the same language. Why should they be marginalised?" he asked.

The change, however, is not welcomed by all of Jammu, with palpable resentment among the Dogras.

"In the name of Hindus every one - Kashmiri Pandits, western Pakistan refugees, Valmikis - are going to settle in Jammu. But resources - jobs and higher educational seats - are limited," a senior officer pointed out, adding that this would only increase pressure on Jammu over the coming days.

"Even the BJP, as a political party in J&K, is dominated by Kashmiri Pandits," another officer said, adding that the Pandits were given preferential treatment at medical institutions and colleges, in terms of both seats and job opportunities.

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"We have been marginalised in our own region," he lamented.

Meanwhile, in the Valley people are upset because they feel the centre, with this legislation, wants to homogenise the area. "It will further deepen conflict," a local politician warned.