Srinagar: Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre is moving fast to integrate the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and has passed new domicile order and rules, evoking sharp reaction from stakeholders like unemployed youth, traders and all mainstream political parties. The National Conference said that the new laws were “grossly unethical and aimed at changing the demography of Jammu and Kashmir”. The Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP has said that “such aims of the Central government would be resisted on the ground”.
J&K Apni Party, recently created by Altaf Bukhari, has also denounced the new domicile law and has asked the Centre to desist from such moves in Jammu and Kashmir.Recently, the Centre took a slew of measures to change the laws, including shifting of Tribunal pertaining to service matters to Chandigarh from Jammu and Srinagar. The latest moves regarding domicile law has evoked sharp reactions in the Jammu region too. “We will lose jobs, trade, everything,” a civil society member and lawyer of Jammu told this reporter. A Jammu-based professor and political analyst said, “All West Pakistan refugees, valmikis and thousands of those settled outside Jammu will be coming back, stressing our resources and land”.
Sensing trouble at widespread resentment in Jammu region, regarded as a stronghold of the BJP, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave post-facto approval to the new law, reserving all government jobs in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for its residents. Earlier, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had notified the amended law on 3 April 2020. All this controversy was raked up on Monday when the J&K government notified grant of domicile certificate rules 2020. These rules prescribe the procedure of issuance of domicile certificate which has been made the basic eligibility for appointment to any post in Jammu and Kashmir. Under the new rules, 15 days would be required for the issuance of certificate.
National Conference Vice-President and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in a tweet said that his party will continue to challenge all the changes made by the Centre in the Constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir from 5 August onwards. PDP spokesperson Suhail Bukhari said, “Such orders don’t settle anything nor can they cover-up the 5 August 2019 fraud. Such moves will further complicate things in J&K. Almost all political parties have opposed this move of the Centre, but the biggest opposition is coming from unemployed youth who feel that the BJP government is trying to snatch their job opportunities and settle outsiders here.” Spelling out the order, an official spokesman said, “The decision of the appellate authority shall be binding upon the issuing authority and the orders of the appellate authority are to be complied within seven days, failing which the defaulting officer shall be liable for a penalty of Rs 50,000 out of his salary. The appellate authorities will also have revisional powers. They can, either suo moto or through an application made, call for records, check the legality of any proceedings and pass appropriate orders in reference.” On 1 April 2020, the BJP government had notified a law spelling out new domicile rules in UT of J&K, including eligibility for government employment. Under this law, domiciles have been defined as those who have been residing in the UT of J&K for 15 years. After stiff opposition of Jammu, the Centre did an amendment, leaving government jobs reversed for J&K domiciles. The J&K government said about framing of rules, “That under the new domicile rules, all those students who have studied in UT of J&K for seven years and appeared in class 10 or 12 examinations in any educational institution would be eligible for the grant of domicile certificate.” The official spokesman said, “Children of Central government officials, All India service 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 the Central government, who have served in the Union territory of Jammu of Kashmir for a total period of ten years, will also be eligible for domicile status in the UT.”