DOMICILE DEFITION: APPEARS OUR COMMUNITY INTERESTS HAVE NOT BEEN TAKEN CARE OF.
On April 1, 2020, Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued a Gazette Notification defining the domicile of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir as applicable while determining the eligibility of a candidate applying for level-4 jobs in the UT. However, in a late-night move on Friday, April 3, 2020, the Central government amended its earlier order. After this amendment, all government jobs are now reserved for the domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir Union territory.
Whereas the definition serves the purpose of those central government employees posted in the Union territory, the refugees from west Pakistan who had settled in Jammu region during the various wars fought between India and Pakistan since independence, Dalits who had been brought to the erstwhile state in fifties and many others, in case of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits, the definition has created confusion at best and apprehension at the worst.
As per the definition issued by the Union Home Ministry, only those Kashmiri Pandits come within its purview are those migrants who were registered with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner of erstwhile J&K State. It is here that the crux of the problem lies.As is well known by now, Kashmiri Pandits, who were displaced from Kashmir in 1989-90, have been officially categorized as ‘Migrants’ by Government of India. Presently, after 30 years of our displacement, we continue to live outside our ancestral place, Kashmir, from where we were displaced in 1989-90, when violent Islamic upsurge engulfed the Valley.
After displacement from Kashmir, large number of displaced Kashmiri Pandits got registered in Jammu, but quite a number got registered in various other parts of India. The notification, as it appears, does not mention anything about those who got registered as migrants outside Jammu. Does the domicile definition not include those of us who got registered outside the erstwhile state of J&K? Besides, due to various reasons beyond their control many displaced Kashmiri Pandits could not register themselves either at Jammu or outside. Therefore, it needs to be clarified by the Union Government if these people can even now be registered at places where they are residing now.
Those seeking domicile certificate are required to fill in a form and get it signed by various nominated govt officials. This process, besides being cumbersome, will further leave the KPs at the mercy of Kashmiri Muslim bureaucracy which has never been well-disposed towards the community. Initially, the displaced Kashmiri Pandits had taken it for granted that this form attached along with the notification, is not applicable to the displaced Kashmiri Pandits since they are already registered with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner, being the residents of Kashmir, before being displaced.
One of the biggest apprehensions of our community is that though the present notification is only applicable for seeking jobs, it is hoped that such domicile conditions are not invoked for permanent settlement, purchase of land/property/ starting business , etc., on Kashmiri Pandits, the aborigines of Kashmir, who have till now faced seven exoduses during the past seven hundred years.
It is pertinent to mention that an overwhelming majority of the community has supported the BJP Govt’s initiatives concerning the erstwhile state of J&K and now a UT (minus Ladakh division). This includes the withdrawal of its support to Mehbooba Mufti Government, imprisonment of some mainstream Kashmiri politicians, Aug 5, 2020 notifications, neutralizing several anti-national laws passed by the State Legislature, etc., etc. However, the domicile definition has disappointed the whole displaced community as it does not seem to address our concerns at all.
It is also pertinent to mention that ours is the only community in the country, which is identified with the place of its origin, Kashmir, and are known all over as Kashmiri Pandits. This has been so for centuries, as the community had to flee Kashmir after the arrival of Islam there in the fourteenth century and the hapless community was forced to seek shelter in the plains of India.The process of leaving Kashmir did not end at the time of independence and subsequent accession of the state to India. At the time of Pakistani Tribal attack on Kashmir in Oct 1947, many Kashmiri Pandits fled their homes to escape the marauding raiders and the Mullahs and Maulvis who carried out aggressive proselytizing, taking advantage of the chaotic situation prevailing in the valley that lasted from 22 Oct to 26 Oct, 1947.
Thereafter, those who wielded the reins of power in the erstwhile princely state gave primacy to the Muslim population in Kashmir in all segments of life; politics, economy, education, jobs, business, etc., thus marginalizing the Pandits. The coup de grace was dealt by the promulgation of Big Landed Estate Abolition Act, which took away the livelihood of many Kashmiri Pandits without getting any compensation in lieu. This process continued right till 1989-90, when the Pakistani-sponsored and locally executed insurgency broke out in the Valley. Such discrimination forced many young Pandits to migrate outside the Valley to seek admission in various colleges, find jobs or just escape the oppressive discrimination. How can these migrants too be denied their rights in their ancestral place ?
We have already addressed our concerns to the to the Union Home Secretary and hope, the govt will issue necessary clarifications. END
-Col. Tej K Tikoo