A view of the Secretariat building in Srinagar. Image Courtesy: The Hindu
The new domicile order for Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir passed by the central government, opening provisions of employment and residency for the people from outside the UT, has drawn sharp criticism from the people of Jammu division. The move came eight months after the scrapping of Article 370, followed by the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two Union Territories.
According to the law, only the lowest level of non- gazetted ranks are reserved for Jammu and Kashmir domiciles. That is Junior Assistant and Constable which are available as lowest category of non-gazetted posts are reserved exclusively for the domiciles of J&K. This will also be made available to children of central government employees serving in Jammu and Kashmir for ten years and also non-locals residing in Jammu and Kashmir for more than 15 years.
"Subject to the provisions of this Act, no person shall be eligible for appointment to a post carrying a pay scale of not more than Level-4 (25500) unless he is a domicile of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir," reads section 5A of Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Decentralization and Recuritment Act.)
"It's anti-youth, especially in Jammu. As there is no provision for gazetted and non gazetted posts, they have been limited to level 4. Even if we go by the logic of the so-called Jammu champions who repeatedly claimed that Kashmiris took the lion's share of the jobs, now Jammu youth will have to compete not only within the state but with the youths from across the country, who are much more privileged than the youths from the hilly region of Jammu.,” Marvi Salathia, a resident of Jammu, told NewsClick, explaining the resentment towards this new order.
Also read: J&K: Centre’s Move to Introduce New Domicile Rules Amid COVID Lockdown Draws Flak from Politicians
The order has also redefined the domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir. Under the law, anyone who have resided for a period of 15 years in the newly formed UT of J&K or have studied for seven years and have appeared in 10/12 examination from an education institution of the erstwhile state will now be considered as domiciles.
"We can't support it in any way because it's like a joke on us by the government. It's not only a matter of jobs or other things that people mostly used to say. We are geographically and ecologically a sensitive place. We don’t have large agricultural lands and, say, habitable land, instead we have mountainous terrains. That means, our state cannot sustain its own population and massive industrialisation and extensive human interference (which is on the cards) in the mountainous terrains of Kashmir and most of the districts in Jammu will be disastrous. Even schools don't open here because of cross border firing and militancy. So, for the protection of our future alongwith our diversity and culture as well jobs and land, we just need the Article 371 as many other states have. We also need the restoration of state status as UT can't be appreciated," said another resident Saurav Singh.
The domicile order has come at a time when India is under a 21-day lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The timing of the order has dismayed many including the politicians who see it as an attempt to curb dissent.
"They have deliberately chosen this time, so that people can’t come out and protest or show their resentment. But people are not dumb. They understand their machinations now," J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) spokesperson Ravinder Sharma told NewsClick.
Meanwhile, IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar has said that they have "initiated action against miscreants instigating people on the new domicile law by misusing social media" and that "arrest were on the cards."
Talking about the difficulties faced by the people and the lack of development, Hakim Singh, another resident of Jammu, told NewsClick, "We people of JK who have faced political crisis since long cannot be pushed suddenly in an open competition. As we don't want only equal opportunity but entitlement and that would come only with special quota and reservation for the locals until we are trained in similar developed environment as other Indians are. Otherwise it will be a race between a horse rider and one walking on foot. Obviously, horse rider will win. And it will have consequences for sub regions- Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban, which are totally backward in all respects. Treating them at par with others Indians including people from main Jammu and Kashmir is also injustice."
Also read: J&K: People Demand Domicile Law, Art 371 at Govt's Outreach Program