omicile certificates were given to over 4 lakh citizens in Jammu and Kashmir, official documents used to prove a person is a resident of a specific state / Union territory.
A total of 3,68,500 certificates of residency were issued in Jammu, and 79,300 in Kashmir Valley.
Bhola Ram (57) in Jammu, who was one of four lakhs receiving the certificate of residence, expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for giving him “right and dignity.”
He further said that “Dalit rights leaders” such as Mayawati never spoke about their plight.
Eight months after the repeal of Article 370, the laws implemented resulted in anxiety and apprehension among residents in the Valley as they believe it could open floodgates for outsiders to settle in Jammu and Kashmir, and change the region’s Muslim majority character.
Through home certificates given to residents, more than 20,000 refugees from West Pakistan and safai karamcharis are now entitled to legal residence, granting them rights in education and jobs.
Of the approximately 3.7 lakh persons given domicile certificates, it is noteworthy that they are now permanent Union Territory residents. A substantial proportion has been given to those who have not been considered state citizens while residing or working in the state for years due to the provisions of Artice 35A, which is now abolished.
In some places, there is apprehension that the shift in domicile rules for Jammu and Kashmir, stripped of its special status on 5 August last year, was intended to force a demographic change in the territory of the Union by enabling entry for outsiders.
According to the new rules that came into force in May this year, people who have lived in Jammu and Kashmir for 15 years, those who have studied in the territory of the Union for 7 years, or who have appeared in Class 10/12 exam from an educational institution in the area, as well as their children, are eligible for residence.
Also included in the qualifying list are children of Central Government employees, all India agencies, banks and PSUs, legislative bodies and central universities, who have worked in UT for 10 years.
A resident of Srinagar, on condition of anonymity, said: “Many people apply for a certificate of residency and know that it is now the new standard and necessary document. They may be against it, but they are filing for it.”
There is a wider perception among Valley residents that Article 370 has helped maintain the heritage of Jammu and Kashmir and the Muslim majority by banning outsiders from buying land and applying for government employment.
POLITICS AROUND DOMICILE
Political groups such as the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appear to be up in arms.
Ilteja Mufti, daughter of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, said that the government is trying to engineer a cultural genocide.
PDP leader Waheed Para, who continues to be under house arrest, said: “I’m a citizen, but now I have to prove my home. There’s a lot of fear because of home. Silence is their answer as people get upset. We don’t have consent or speak.”
NC MP Hasnain Masoodi said: “Home policy will have devastating consequences, it’s not who’s queuing up or becoming permanent residents, it’s a 100-headed serpent that will lead to disenfranchisement and disempowerment.”
Even Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, considered similar to Centre ‘s ruling BJP party, seemed to oppose the law.
Not all seemed averse to the Kashmir domicile.
Junaid Mir of the newly formed Jammu and Kashmir Workers ‘ Party said: “We have to quit the racist mentality. How will demography change?
“We live in modern times. We are demanding productivity in modern times. We can do jobs and buy land outside. Let there be competition, the society will grow and the territory of the Union will develop,” said Junaid Mir.
Nazeer Ahmed Badana of the Gujjar group said: “There’s a report that outsiders will come. But I don’t think so. I think the bigger problem is Article 370 … but for me, it’s not an concern for us as long as there are developments and jobs. The other issues have always been about politics.”