Keep ‘outsiders’ out of J&K census: Separatists
Separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir are using the issue of census operations starting on Saturday to create the same fear that was seen during the Amarnath land row in 2008.india Updated: May 15, 2010 00:02 IST
Separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir are using the issue of census operations starting on Saturday to create the same fear that was seen during the Amarnath land row in 2008.
Leaders such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani have warned census officers against including people not having state-subject status under Article 370 of the Constitution. "You (employees) are expected to list only state subjects," Geelani said.
When land was allotted for Amarnath pilgrims in 2008, separatists whipped up anxiety among people that Hindus from outside the state would settle in the Himalayan heights. The allotment order, issued by the state, had to be rescinded.
The same game is being sought to be replayed. Though it is the census officers' job to include all those who have been living in the state for the past six months, separatists think the overwhelming Muslim-majority character of the state will be lost if that is done.
There are central government employees, paramilitary forces and migrant labourers in the Kashmir Valley. All of them are supposed to be counted.
In the brief given to census officers, separatists see a design by the RSS and BJP in showing a lower proportion of Muslims in the state.
Geelani and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik have exhorted people to take part in the census process to maintain the Muslim-majority character of the state.
Kashmir Bar Association President Mian Abdul Qayoom said: "Such an exercise (the way the census is sought to be done) is a clear violation of the state constitution. "We will take recourse to legal means first. If that does not succeed, people will not take it lying down," he said.
Census Director Farooq Ahmad said officials would not distinguish between state subjects and others. "We're not concerned with who is a state subject and who is not. Our population enumeration will include all persons living at a particular place for the past six months."