Communities deprived of equal rights for years in J&K, finally get domicile certificates
Deprived of citizenship for over 70 years under successive Kashmir-centric regimes, members of the Valmiki Samaj, West Pak Refugees and Gurkhas were finally handed over their domicile certificates here on Saturday.
Valmiki community leader Gharu Bhatti said, “It is a red-letter day for us. The first domicile certificate was given to 70-year-old Deepo Devi. She had retired long back as a sanitation worker from Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC).”
“We are very happy that we have been finally considered as citizens of J&K. There is new hope among our youth, who can now also become officers and get jobs in other departments,” he added.
Bhatti slammed Kashmir-centric parties like National Conference and PDP for opposing the new domicile law. “Since the beginning they have been saying that these are attempts to change the demography. Instead, they were the ones attempting to make it a Muslim state. They never allowed equal rights to us, be it Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah or Mehboob Mufti,” he said.
He said the domicile certificates have brought an end to their slavery by the successive Kashmir-centric regimes.
Brought from Gurdaspur and Amritsar in 1957 on the assurance of then J&K ‘Prime Minister’ Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed that they will be given permanent resident status and other privileges, Valmikis ended up working as sweepers for 62 years irrespective of their educational qualifications.
West Pakistani Refugees Action Committee (WPRAC) chairman Labha Ram Gandhi said it was all due to sincere and human approach of the BJP-leadership that they got the right to live a dignified life.
“Except betrayals by previous governments at the Centre as well as in the erstwhile J&K state, nothing was done to solve our issues,” Gandhi said.
West Pak refugees were not considered residents of the state since 1947. No jobs and no admission in professional courses were given to them. They had fled Pakistan during partition from Sialkot and settled in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts.
The process of distribution of domicile certificates under the new domicile law was kick-started here with the distribution of over 50 domicile certificates by Jammu divisional commissioner Sanjeev Verma during a special camp.
Speaking on the occasion, Verma said with the handing over of domicile certificates, the long-pending demand of the public has been fulfilled.