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Govt’s partial reversal of domicile order attracts mixed response

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Cong, BJP, NPP, JKAP hail decision; NC, PC, PDP, CPI(M) not impressed

Srinagar/Jammu: As the Central government late Friday night amended its two-day-old domicile order and reserved all jobs in Jammu and Kashmir for the domiciles of the Union territory, the decision has attracted mixed response from political parties.

An amended gazette notification — titled the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order-2020 — was put out on Friday night, reserving jobs for the domiciles of the UT, which was formed in October last year after the Centre withdrew the special status of the erstwhile state and announced its bifurcation.

“Any person who fulfils the following conditions shall be a domicile of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir for the purposes of appointment to any post under the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir,” the revised notification said.

“….no person shall be eligible for appointment to any post unless he is a domicile of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir,” the amended Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Decentralisation and Recruitment) Act, which is a part of the notification, said.

In the April 1 notification, the jobs were reserved only upto group 4 in the government, which is equivalent to the rank of constable in police parlance and multi-tasking staff in government offices.

National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah said the people of Jammu and Kashmir should get to decide the laws to govern themselves rather than being subjected to the whims and fancies of the Centre.

“It’s high time the people of J&K get to decide the laws that will govern them rather than being subjected to the whims & fancies of the centre where orders are issued in the morning & changes to the same order issued in the evening. Restore statehood, conduct elections. #Democracy,” the former chief minister of the erstwhile state wrote on Twitter.

Omar’s party – the National Conference — in a statement said the amendments were cosmetic in nature and there was no doubt that the domicile law would change the demography of J-K and would essentially rob the rights of the locals to jobs.

However, welcoming the amendments, J&K Congress vice president and former minister G M Saroori congratulated the people for remaining united and “forcing the Centre to amend the order for the better future of Jammu and Kashmir”.

He urged the Government to fulfill the cherished demand of the local residents for restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference while reacting to the amendments made to the domicile law asserted that the reality of domicile is that it was changed unrecognizably and remains unrecognizable and unguarded.

“It seems the inhabitants of J&K do not have the luxury of strategizing a way out of the bloody virus on prowl across the world. While families and societies across the world are in a state of panic, desperate to save themselves and their loved ones, the inhabitants here are unendingly and additionally in a state of psychological torture in the wake of orders issued at frequent intervals informing them and reminding them of their disempowered status”, PC Chief Spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu said in a statement.

He further stated that the sensitive and cherished aspect of sub identity remains unguarded and virtually in a state of ‘free for all.

“Even in the most difficult of the times when the world is fighting the COVID pandemic, an order ascends from Delhi and descends in Srinagar – as conspicuously as possible.  Two orders in a space of few days. The reality of the domicile as it stares in our faces is that it was changed unrecognizably and remains unrecognizable. It is not even a pale shadow of what it was irrespective of the two domicile orders issued in the last few days. The sensitive and cherished aspect of sub identity remains unguarded and virtually in a state of ‘free for all’. What has been added is a totally avoidable and ancient art of political monkeying. This perhaps sums up the new state of affairs- ‘Take a pound from you and throw some pennies back at you subject to you enacting a monkey’ dance”, he added.

While urging the Central government to respect the wishes of J&K in matters pertaining to issues concerning their future, he said that, “we just hope and pray the inhabitants of J&K and the rest of the country sail through the pandemic with the safety of all their loved ones. We equally hope that the new state of affairs in the form of ‘ascend of orders’ in Delhi and ‘descend of orders’ in Srinagar and the utterly grotesque monkey dance does not persist,” he concluded.

Dr Darakhshan Andrabi, BJP Spokesperson and Chairperson of Waqf Development Committee of Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India, has welcomed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Home Minister Amit Shah for making the much needed amendment in the Jammu & Kashmir Domicile Law by which all jobs are now reserved for the residents of Jammu & Kashmir.

Dr Andrabi termed it as a ‘timely decision taken by the Central Government keeping in view the aspirations of the people’.

Dr Andrabi said that this government is willing to go to any extent to usher new era of prosperity, development and peace in Jammu & Kashmir. She said that BJP was committed to give a ‘new Jammu & Kashmir’ to the people who have been subjected to political exploitation, corruption and militancy by the ruling dispensations during the past seventy years.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) termed the amendments “token concessions”, saying the Centre should have addressed the apprehensions regarding “assault” on demography of J-K.

“While securing the future of our youth is pivotal, GOI should’ve addressed the apprehension regarding assault on demography of J&K. Token concession with a backdoor left wide open in the form of new domiciles does nothing to mitigate the aspersions cast on GOI’s urgent move during a life threatening pandemic,” the PDP said on its official Twitter handle.

PDP spokesperson and former legislator Firdous Tak said a law which is to govern 12 million population of Jammu and Kashmir was so offhandedly drafted that the Union government had to change it within 72 hours.

He said the domicile law, even in amended form, was “dangerous” and only portrays the real intention of people sitting in the power corridors.

“The basics of domicile law now remains unchanged whereby people from outside the union territory, who have been residing here for 15 years, the employees of central government and PSUs and others will get an equal opportunity to compete for the limited jobs in the government sector,” Tak said in a statement.

He said the law would only open flood gates at the disadvantage of the educated and uneducated youth of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir is one of the major disadvantages for the local youth, wedging their growth besides almost negligible options in the private sector,” the PDP spokesperson added.

Recently-floated Jammu Kashmir Apni Party’s (JKAP) president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari welcomed the Centre’s move, but pledged to continue the party’s efforts to get the law revisited in its entirety to remove the remaining loopholes till it satisfies the aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Extending gratitude to Union Home Minster Amit Shah and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, the JKAP president said their timely and personal intervention made the much needed amendments to domicile law possible in a very short span of time.

Senior CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yosuf Tarigami noted that the widespread resentment across Jammu and Kashmir over the domicile law for appointments in government sector forced the central government to amend the legal framework to reserve all gazetted and non-gazetted posts for J&K domiciles.

He said that thecredit for the amendment to the law goes to the people of J&K, who stood united to oppose this unjust and unfair law.

“Nevertheless, source of this uncertainty is the spirit of new domicile law and state subject. The special status of the erstwhile undivided state of Jammu & Kashmir had its roots in laws made during Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh’s regime. The laws, notified in 1927 and 1932, defined citizenship, property rights, and privileges of state subjects were achieved during Mahraja’s rule. That spirit needs to be revived,” Tarigami said.

He said that with new domicile law, people not only in Kashmir, but Jammu and Ladakh are worried as they fear the loss of land and economic rights.

“It is the time that people across the undivided state of Jammu and Kashmir raise their voice against this unjust and unfair deal. The new domicile law must not be seen in isolation as it will affect people of all regions and communities,” added Tarigami

Meanwhile, describing the amendment effected in the domicile order as the “first victory” for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir, the National Panthers Party (NPP) on Saturday said the move had come as a pleasant relief for millions of aspiring youth of the Union Territory.

“Though there were certain other aspects in domicile law which needed amendment, but the larger satisfaction was that the most menacing aspects of the legislation had been shelved,” NPP chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh said.

Singh dubbed the earlier provision as “highly obnoxious” and alleged that it was enacted to serve as a tunnel to facilitate the entry of outsiders into Jammu and Kashmir with an assurance of share in government jobs.

“It was an ill-timed and ill-intended move which had sparked massive public outrage, thereby forcing the Union government to withdraw the nasty provision. It is the first victory for the youth of J&K who are facing neglect and deprivation at the hands of an unconcerned and apathetic regime at the centre,” he said.

Meanwhile, National Conference provincial president Devender Singh Rana sought exclusive rights over the government jobs in the Union Territory for the permanent residents as per the law enacted by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927.

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