J&K parties call new domicile rights ‘insult’, seek suspension of ‘casual’ order

Apni party said the new domicile policy didn’t take the expectations of the local people into account. It demanded that the order be suspended for now.
Apni Party’s Syed Altaf Bukhari has called for putting the domicile notification for Jammu and Kashmir into abeyance.(HT Photo/File/)
Apni Party’s Syed Altaf Bukhari has called for putting the domicile notification for Jammu and Kashmir into abeyance.(HT Photo/File/)
Updated on Apr 01, 2020 05:38 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Srinagar | ByMir Ehsan

A Central notification issued on Wednesday defining domicile rights for the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has led to criticism from most regional parties including the newly launched Apni party which described the policy as an “ill-timed” and “casual” attempt.

The notification grants domicile rights in Jammu and Kashmir to those who have lived there for 15-years and to children of central government employees who have served in the UT for at least ten years among others. The rules also reserve group-4 level jobs for domicile right holders.

Former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah described the notification as an “insult” while questioning the timing of its release.

“Talk about suspect timing. At a time when all our efforts & attention should be focused on the #COVID outbreak, the government slips in a new domicile law for J&K. Insult is heaped on injury when we see the law offers none of the protections that had been promised,’’ tweeted Omar Abdullah.

The policy also grants domicile to those who have studied in J&K for seven years and appeared in Class 10 and Class 12 examinations in an educational institution located in the Union Territory apart from those registered as migrants with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants).

Apni party president Altaf Bukhari said the policy didn’t take the expectations of the local people into account and demanded that the ‘ill timed, order be put in abeyance till the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

“While JKAP had been vehemently demanding Domicile Rights on land and jobs for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the order issued by the union government reflects a casual exercise carried out at bureaucratic level without taking aspirations and expectations of people into consideration,” Bukhari said.

Bukhari said the order was “causal” in attempt and designed to “hoodwink” the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“This Order in its entirety is a casual attempt, cosmetic in nature, to hoodwink the people of Jammu and Kashmir who genuinely believed that post October 31, 2019, their rights and privileges in the matter of employment and other rights would remain as it had been,” he said, adding that being a government-issued order and not a law made by the Parliament, the new gazette notification regarding domicile rule for J&K was not immune to any judicial review.

Bukhari said a tangible, legal and constitutional mechanism was needed to safeguard privileges such as employment rights to non-Gazetted and Gazetted post and admissions to professional colleges for “the permanent residents” of J&K.

As many as 28 of the 138 acts have been repealed as the domicile policy was notified months after the union territory came into existence on October 31, 2019, after its special status and statehood were taken away by the Parliament in August.

J&K Peoples Conference led by Sajjad Lone said the order fell way short of expectations.

“The new definition of ‘domicile’ is humiliating and insulting. Adds insult to injury. The lowest rung in jobs has been reserved for locals - not even non-gazetted but Class IV jobs,” J&K Peoples Party spokesman said in a statement.

Congress said the notification diluted the privileges enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir residents instead of safeguarding their interests with provisions that exist in the northeastern states.

“This is an insult to the people of J&K. By this order the centre has made lakhs of people eligible for the jobs and other things which were reserved for the people of J&K,” J&K Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir told Hindustan Times.

PDP spokesman called the domicile policy a “crude joke”.

“The people of J&K will not benefit from this and it is a symptom of a larger problem,” the spokesperson said.

However, the BJP welcomed the decision and termed it to be a step in the right direction post the abrogation of article 370.

“It’s same like our neighboring state Himachal Pradesh’s domicile rights. It is a good step, though some people will criticize it. We welcome this notification and reservation,” former J&K deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Kavinder Gupta said.

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