Though it was obvious after stripping of the autonomous status of J&K in August 2019 that New Delhi was eying something big on Kashmir front but no one would have imagined that it would do so when the whole world was battling the spread of a invisible enemy Covid-19.
On first of April 2020, Ministry of Home Affairs brought up new domicile law which grants permanent residency rights, access to owing and buying property, jobs for anyone who has resided in the erstwhile state for a period of 15 years. This new domicile law added a new dimension of uncertainty and added to anxiety and insecurity of the people of Kashmir. Many youth indeed took to social media to express their fears of losing livelihood.
Following a backlash from youth and more importantly from Hindu dominated Jammu province, including from BJP and the newly formed Apni Party (JKAP), the law was changed overnight to reserve all types of jobs for domiciles but that was all pre-planned act by New Delhi to give political leeway to newly formed JKAP and to make youth less angry in BJP’s own constituency of Jammu.
The hastily amended new domicile law allows permanent residency rights and jobs to those who have resided in the erstwhile state for last 15 years or studied for a period of seven years and appeared in class 10 or 12 examinations in educational institutions located in the region. It also allows permanent residency rights to central government officials and their children who have served the erstwhile state for 10 years. With this one thing which comes out as more worrying and is raising eyebrows is, how transparent will be the process of issuing domicile certificate in one of strife torn J&K where corruption is almost institutionalised.
It is to mention that the jobs were never an issue behind the abrogation of Art 370. Many believe the real motive was to induce demographic change in the India’s only Muslim majority state. Indications are that New Delhi will gradually move more IAS and other higher rank officers in the territory administration who will keep necessary files with them and reduce the influence of local officers and people to minimal.
This appears to be a classic example of settler colonialism where a country first robs the aspirations, then land, culture, environment and finally identity.
Dr Inzmam Khan
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