Auqib Javeed, TwoCircles.net
Srinagar: Stating that the new Domicile law is not only a threat to Kashmir Muslims but for the minorities of the erstwhile state as well, minorities in Jammu and Kashmir – which include Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs have rejected the new domicile law and urged the Government of India to revoke it.
On 26 June, a senior IAS officer from Bihar, Navin Kumar Choudhary along with 25,000 people, was granted a domicile certificate by the government in Jammu and Kashmir. Choudhary became the first IAS officer who has been granted the domicile certificate.
The new domicile law, which gives non-locals the legal basis to own property in Kashmir, has triggered a fresh wave of concern from residents of Jammu as well as Kashmir, who see the new domicile law as a step towards changing the demography of the state and deprive residents of local government jobs.
TwoCircles.net spoke to members of minority communities in Jammu and Kashmir, who expressed strong resentment against the new law saying that the “new law is more of a threat to the minorities of J&K than the majority Muslim population.”
Sampath Prakash, a Kashmir Pandit told TwoCircles.net that since the beginning of 1990 most of the Kashmiri Pandits have sold their property in Kashmir and settled in different states of India. “It will be difficult for them to prove their identity,” added.
“I am asking how they will prove that they are Kashmiri and with the new domicile law they will lose their culture and identity,” Prakash told TwoCircles.net.
Prakash said they will fight against the policy shoulder to shoulder with their fellow Kashmiri Muslim brethren.
“We will give our lives to save Kashmir civilisation, culture and heritage and it’s in our blood,” Prakash said.
He cautioned other Pandits of “falling in the trap” of BJP and said some selfish members from his community are praising the government for the domicile law for their personal gains and to defame the rest of the community.
Another Kashmir Pandit, Sanjeev Raina, who is settled in New Delhi, echoed the views of Prakash, said they are against the new domicile law.
“It was a treaty between the Maharaja and New Delhi in 1947 that Kashmir acceded to India only if they assured protection of jobs and land. So, now the Modi government has snatched the right from us, why shouldn’t we speak against it,” Raina told TwoCircles.net.
Raina said it’s unacceptable for them that any non-local can settle in Jammu and Kashmir and they will explore all options to oppose it.
Raina said those KP’s who are welcoming the new Domicile law are BJP sponsored agents and don’t represent the entire Kashmiri Hindus.
“These BJP puppets can’t speak on behalf of us. They are making their careers out of this,” Raina said.
It may be noted, the BJP government, On April 1, notified a law spelling out domicile of Jammu and Kashmir and also the eligibility for employment in the region.
Under the law, the domiciles have been defined as those who have resided for a period of 15 years in Jammu and Kashmir or have studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Class 10th/12th examination in an educational institution located in J&K.
While Kashmir Muslims who are in majority have spoken against the law openly, the minorities haven’t expressed their views so far, except few Kashmiri Pandit groups who are allegedly backed by BJP.
However, several members from the minority groups told TwoCircles.net that they are against the new law.
Jagmohan Sing Raina, a Kashmiri Sikh based in Srinagar, told TwoCircles.net that New Delhi should have consulted people of Kashmir before framing and invoking any law here.
“How can they make laws for us when we don’t belong to them. The truth is this law was made without our consent so we are opposing it,” Raina said.
“There is strong resentment among the Sikh community. People aren’t speaking out due to fear but I must tell you we are also against the law,” Raina added.
Sudershan Singh Wazir, a Sikh from Jammu argues that the original state subjects should be treated as a domicile.
“The new policy is just to invite the settlers here and is a threat to our Kashmir identity,” Wazir told TwoCircles.net
Before August 5, when Article 370 and Article 35-A were in place, all jobs in the erstwhile state of J&K were exclusively reserved for permanent residents of the State.
Under Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir was governed under the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir while Article 35-A prohibited people from outside from buying property in the erstwhile state and ensuring job reservation for permanent residents.
Following the announcement of new laws, a sense of fear grew among the people who see it as a threat to their existence and identity. The fear is echoed by minorities of the state.