Political row later, Centre climbs down on J&K order, reserves all jobs for UT domiciles

Political row later, Centre climbs down on J&K order, reserves all jobs for UT domiciles
Lockdown at Bandipora in north Kashmir. (Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

Two days after introducing a new domicile clause redefining residence and recruitment rules for Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre on Friday amended its order to reserve all jobs in the Union Territory for only its domiciles.

The previous order included protections for level 4 jobs with a pay scale not exceeding Rs 25,500.

The move had triggered a row with almost all shades of political opinion questioning its intent and timing, and criticising the Centre for “heaping insult on injury” upon the residents of the UT.

The earlier order of the Ministry of Home Affairs, while providing limited protections for level 4 jobs, had opened up all other government posts to anyone from the rest of the country.

Level four jobs include the lower constabulary, junior assistants and entry level non-gazetted jobs.

The earlier order extended the definition of domicile to children of central government officials, all India services officers, officials of PSUs and autonomous bodies of the central government, public sector banks, officials of statutory bodies, officials of central universities and recognised research institutes of central government who “have served in Jammu and Kashmir for a total period of ten years, or children of parents who fulfil any of the conditions in sections”.

This part has been changed to “shall have served” in J&K.

Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) president Altaf Bukhari met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval in New Delhi on Friday and told them that the “new order is not in the interest of J&K residents”.

“The concern for us now is the limited job reservation for J&K residents in the new domicile rules. It has been conveyed to them (the Centre) that the new rules are not at all in the interest of the people, and need modification,” a senior JKAP leader privy to the meetings told The Indian Express.

“A positive response has been received from Home Minister and the NSA after the matter was raised with them,” the leader said.

The new rule defined a domicile as someone “who has resided for a period of fifteen years in the UT of J&K or has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in class 10th/12th examination in an educational institution located in the UT of J&K”.

Before the removal of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019, Article 35A of the Constitution of India (now abrogated) empowered the (erstwhile) state Assembly to define a resident of J&K, who alone were eligible to apply for jobs or own immovable property.

Another JKAP leader said: “It is very important for the party to get the order modified. Residents of J&K are fuming about this new order and they are blaming us.”

Following meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Shah last month, JKAP leaders had said that they were assured of protection for domicile rights.

Reacting to the late night order on Friday, senior JKAP leader Ashraf Mir told The Indian Express, “Nothing comes on a platter. You have to assert, then only will you be successful. We will do everything for the good of the people.”

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