J&K domicile policy to focus on securing land, govt jobsUpdated: Mar 21, 2020 23:09 IST
The domicile policy of Jammu and Kashmir, which is under the central government’s consideration, will place checks on the sale of land, especially farm land, to outsiders and set apart almost all government jobs for local residents, senior officials aware of key policy elements said.
It will also reserve a substantial number of seats in educational institutions for locals of the newly created Union territory.
“The issue is being discussed. The policy is likely to be made public soon,” said one of the officials, all of whom requested anonymity.
The Union home ministry declined to comment on the policy, which comes in the aftermath of the August 5 nullification of the Constitution’s Article 370, which had conferred special status on Jammu and Kashmir, and Article 35 A that reserved property ownership and government jobs for so-called permanent residents of the erstwhile state. The Centre also pushed through a reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir, dividing it into two Union territories -- J&K and Ladakh -- with effect from October 31.
Article 35 A empowered the former state’s legislature to define permanent residents of the state and provide special rights and privileges to them.
Observers said the new domicile policy is aimed at easing the concerns of local residents that outsiders may get to corner a sizeable share of property and government jobs in Jammu and Kashmir as a result of the August 5 moves by the Centre.
The new domicile policy figured at meetings that a 24-member delegation of the Apni Party – a new political formation in Jammu and Kashmir comprising former members of the People’s Democratic Party, National Conference and Congress– had with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah this month.
Apni Pary suggested that to be deemed a domicile of Jammu and Kashmir an individual must have spent 25 years in the region, with a cut-off date of October 2019.
There are indications that Apni Party is willing to settle for a fewer number of years for grant of domicile status, possibly a decade-and-a-half, a second senior official said.
Apni Party sought “adequate” protection for Jammu and Kashmir from being exploited by big real estate developers, this officials said/
“There is no intention of the Government for demographic change in the region and all such talks have no basis at all,” said a statement issued by the home ministry after Apni Party leaders met Shah, who assured the delegation that Jammu and Kashmir will have a better domicile policy than other regions in the country .
Existing state land banks will be used to accommodate new industries that move to the state.The administration of the Union territory has announced that industrial parks would be set up on existing state land to woo businesses
Shah also told the delegation that there will be “no discrimination in the implementation of Central Laws” in Jammu and Kashmir and the interests of all sections will be taken care of. And, at the request of the Apni Party, the home ministry extended the application of 37 central laws to Jammu and Kashmir.
Article 371 of the Indian Constitution is applicable to several states -- Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim. among others -- and seeks to protect jobs and check the sale sale of land to outsiders.
“We are only asking for the same kind of protection that other states have,” Altaf Bhukari, founder-president of Apni Party, said. “This is a historical opportunity where the sub-nationalism and internal rivalry between regions of Jammu, Kashmir valley and Ladakh, can be sorted. For the first time in many years, people across these regions have the same demand on the domicile issue.”