Govt working on framing domicile norms for Jammu and Kashmir
The minister’s comments come in the context of fears that government jobs and land-ownership, hitherto reserved for locals would now be grabbed by outsiders.Updated: Jan 04, 2020 03:01 IST
Union minister Jitendra Singh hit out at those raking up the issue of safeguards over domicile in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday and said the region would have those appropriate for a Union Territory (UT).
The minister’s comments come in the context of fears that government jobs and land-ownership, hitherto reserved for locals would now be grabbed by outsiders. Many Indian states have so-called domicile requirements to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Indeed, the UT’s administration and the union home ministry are in talks to finalise rules regarding domicile , especially with an eye on protecting land rights, a home ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
The government is already working to protect the rights of the locals as regards land ownership, industries and jobs, the state BJP’s chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi said in a statement.
Among the options under consideration is a mandatory requirement of 15-year residency in the UT to be eligible for government jobs and owning land.
There could be more nuanced safeguards too, the home ministry official added. “For instance, the sale of agricultural land to outsiders isn’t allowed in some states and UTs.”
The official said the ministry is studying such rules in states such as Uttarkhand and Himachal Pradesh.
Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh along with several other states including Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim enjoy protection through Article 371 of the Indian Constitution. Article 371 grants special status to some states to meet the unique demands of the states and protect the economy and culture of the states.
“In addition, discussions are also on whether domicile status etc should be issued by the UTs or whether the Union Home Ministry should issue them,” the official added.
Last August, Parliament passed a law and resolutions to bifurcate Jammu & Kashmir into two UTs and scrap constitutional provisions that gave the state special status and its residents special privileges. The domicile requirements are seen by many as a way to assure the local population that its rights will be protected.
“We will have safeguards, which are appropriate for a Union territory,” Singh said, addressing the officers of the Jammu and Kashmir government at a three-day training programme.
“Who told you that domicile and such provisions will not be safeguarded? Those raising such issues should be questioned as to why they denied people provisions (of the Centre for the benefit of people) for the last 72 years. They should first answer that,” he added.