‘There are allegations that the certificates are being issued to outsiders at an electric speed’.

 

Srinagar: While politicians have demanded a white paper over the issuance of domicile certificates in Jammu and Kashmir, so far, the administration in order to clear the air has said that 99% of the 12.5 lakh domicile certificates issued so far have been given to former Permanent Resident Certificate owners of the erstwhile state.

Earlier, detained senior Congress leader Prof Saif-ud-din Soz told the media about the dangerous consequences for residents of Jammu and Kashmir and demanded a white paper.

Common people, both in the Jammu and Kashmir regions, have questioned the speed of issuance of the domicile certificates by the authorities while their pressing needs were being ignored by the administration, taking cover under the Covid lockdown.

“When we approach authorities with our pressing problems during this pandemic, they tell us that unless the situation normalises, they cannot do anything. But they have been able to issue over 13 lakh domicile certificates so far. It is surprising and shocking for us,” said Showkat Ahmad Mir, who could not secure time of officials in Srinagar, citing the pandemic.

Giving the breakup of such certificates, Principal Secretary in J&K administration Rohit Kansal told media that this included 11,398 West Pakistan Refugees, 415 Valmiki community members, 10 Gorkha community members and 12,340 registered migrants, trying to play down the allegations that the “certificates were being issued to the outsiders at an electric speed”.

It is in place to mention that despite a lot of protests by political parties and common people that the new domicile law was aimed at changing the demography of Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Home Ministry, on 31 March, introduced new domicile law that expanded who can live permanently in Jammu and Kashmir. The new rules replace “permanent residents” of the former state with “domiciles” of the new Union Territory.

Dr Farooq Abdullah, in an interview with a newspaper, claimed that the BJP government was trying to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir and convert it from a Muslim majority state to Hindu majority state. Similar sentiments were expressed by other political parties, including PDP and J&K Congress. The new domicile law allows Indian citizens who have lived in Jammu and Kashmir for 15 years to claim a “domicile certificate” for residency benefits, as well as those who have studied there for seven years. Children of Central government officials, who worked in Jammu and Kashmir for at least 10 years, can also apply.

Rohit Kansal in the press conference said that 12.5 lakh domicile certificates have been issued so far and all the “permanent residents” of the erstwhile state with Permanent Resident Certificates issued before 31 October 2019, will be eligible for receiving their domicile certificates on the basis of PRCs alone, with no other additional document required.

However, for Kashmiri migrant pandits, the J&K government has said that they can get a domicile certificate on production of either a PRC or certificate of registration of migrants. In order to blunt criticism, the J&K administration has said that the new domicile certificate was only for applying for jobs and did not confer rights to own land in the region. The government further said that these are only rumours that such certificate holders would be included in the voters’ list.