On Saturday, when the census operations will start in Jammu and Kashmir, an ever haunting question of who should be in or out would haunt the enumerators.
They are supposed to include every one who has stayed in any part of the state for the past six months, whether the native citizen of Jammu and Kashmir or not, but the separatists want them to exclude “outsiders.”
Separatists’ stake is in projecting Jammu and Kashmir as a Muslim majority state with a huge margin.
And if others (non-state subjects) are included, in that, they see a design to undermine the Muslim majority character of Jammu and Kashmir, the only state in the country with such a distinction , where Article 370 confers special citizenship to the natives of J&K.
The census in Jammu and Kashmir will be in two phases .
First phase that will begin on Saturday would be house listing and national population register. In the second phase, the enumerators would count the people in February 2011.
There will be a headcount of one and all in the state, whether state subjects – citizens of Jammu and Kashmir having the right to vote, purchase of immovable property and getting jobs into the state government services- and all others who have stayed at a particular place for the past six months.
“We are not concerned with state subjects or non-state subjects,” Director Census Farooq Ahmad said .“ Our population enumeration will include all the persons living at a particular place for the past six months. For us that would be the population of the state”.
“Our guidelines are to list the people, as per their language, religion and caste (SC and ST),” Farooq said.
“That’s the procedure and guidelines,” Director Census Farooq Ahmad told
“All that would be reflected as the total population of Jammu and Kashmir and who’s who ( state subject or not), that's the matter to be decided by the revenue department,” the director said, making it amply clear hat the census officials were not going to distinguish between the natives and others.
Separatists have sensed a conspiracy in it, and they have also made it clear that they would not accept such a census.
The hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has asked the employees on census duty not to enlist non-state subjects into the list of the state population. “ You ( employees) are expected to list only the state subjects.”
Geelani sees a conspiracy in reducing the number of Muslims in the state by India and has blamed the rightist Hindu outfits like RSS and BJP for hatching such a plot. The image of RSS and BJP evokes a reprehensible image in the minds of a majority of the population in the Valley.
Separatist leaders, like Geelani and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, as already reported by
, have exhorted the people in the Kashmir Valley to take part in the census process to maintain the Muslim majority character of the Kashmir Valley .
Kashmir is almost completely Muslim with most of the minorities-Hindus and Sikhs having fled the Valley in 1990s . But there are central government employees, paramilitary forces and also the migrant labourers.
All these would be counted.
Separatists who had stirred the Amarnath land row in the summer of 2008, summoning people to streets with a fear - coated slogan that Hindus from outside of J&K would settle in the Himalayan heights of 12,000 plus feet , have already started the campaign that Kashmir’s real Muslim population would not be reflected in the census
Geelani, who was taken into custody in Srinagar on Friday afternoon, when contacted on his mobile phone , told Hindustan Times that “ this would be a clear design to reduce the Muslim majority character of the state, and we would resist it by all means, including agitations . How can they count 3-4 lakh Bihari migrants as population of this state.”
Kashmir Bar Association President Mian Abdul Qayoom, who as head of the action committee against the land transfer to Shri Amarnath Shrine board, had spearheaded the agitation seeking cancellation of the land transfer order, told
on phone : “such an exercise is a clear violation of the state constitution.”
“ First, we will take recourse to legal means, if it doesn’t succeed , then anything is possible, because the people would not take it lying down,” he said in reply to a question as to what would happen.