A unified backlash from all political parties in Jammu and Kashmir including the BJP’s local unit to an extent saw the Centre making a single but significant amendment in the law, thereby guaranteeing full job rights to local educated youth.
The job rights though is not something new or something to be celebrated about but is definitely seen as a much needed breather by local educated youth, particularly in wake of ever-growing joblessness in the strife-torn valley.
The Centre amended the controversial domicile law on April 3.
In its final form, only permanent residents of J&K will be eligible to apply for recruitment in the Union Territory. Prior to the amendment, home ministry had reserved only subordinate posts for domiciled residents.
According to the new JK domicile law, apart from residents of Jammu and Kashmir, the new domiciles will include people who have lived in the union territory for at least 15 years, have studied in J&K for 7 years and appeared in class 10th or 12th examination here. It also includes children of government employees serving in J&K for at least 10 years.
However the fears still persist. The residents fear that this law will change demography of Jammu and Kashmir in general and Kashmir in particular, which is in the interest of New Delhi.
On August 5th, last year, Centre under the leadership of PM Modi scrapped Article 370, and 35A of the constitution, which barred non-residents of J&K from buying land or property, getting a government job, scholarship or voting in state assembly elections.
Subsequently, the Muslim-majority state was divided into two union territories, which was followed by months long communication blackout and other restrictions. BJP has been justifying the scrapping of the region’s special status claiming it will bring development.
In an apparent move to silence the dissent, all major political leaders and thousands of youth in Kashmir were jailed or detained in their homes. Even the high speed internet still remains shut.
The new domicile law came as a shock and beyond the expectations of newly formed J&K Apni party too. However the amendment made later seems to have somehow satisfied them.
The Apni party is largely seen as a party being backed up by the Centre and it had always shown willingness to negotiate with New Delhi beyond Article 370.
The party had demanded statehood and domicile rights for Jammu and Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370. The party leadership even met PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi with the same demands and were assured that the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir would be protected.
Responding to the amendment on new domicile law, Omar Abdullah tweeted “Its high time the people of J&K get to decide the laws that will govern them rather than being subjected to the whims & fancies of the centre, where orders are issued in the morning & changes to the same order issued in the evening. Restore statehood, conduct elections,”
Earlier, Omar who was recently released from detention termed the new law as an insult to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Calling it a violation of international laws, United Nations Security Council and OIC resolutions on the issue, the International Organization of Islamic Republic asked India to repeal ‘draconian laws’ and stop human rights abuses in the region.
While as people in Kashmir region apparently expressed dismay over abrogation of Article 370, on the other hand, people of Hindu dominated Jammu region seemed satisfied and hailed the Centre’s decision as bold and historic. Some people claim that people of Jammu are not aware of serious repurcussions of its future implications as this domicile law shattered their dreams and expectations.
A Facebook user from Jammu disheartened by the move posted a picture on his wall with a placard on which he has written “once a staunch BJP supporter, I am betrayed today. Domicile law is against us, BJP against J&K.”
With this move, apprehensions of demographic change, loosing identity and mixing of cultures are still looming large on the minds of citizens of Kashmir.
They see this law as a complete domination of New Delhi on Kashmir. It is seen as part of a strategy by New Delhi aiming at demographic and geographical change in the formerly princely state.
The people of Kashmir are fearing significant yet major changes in the demography of valley in times to come.
For now entire world as well as Kashmir is struggling with Coronavirus pandemic. It will be interesting to see how things shape up in Kashmir in times to come.
(The views expressed are author’s own. Curtain Raiser does not necessarily subscribe to the views)