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Friday June 21, 2024

New Delhi intensifies efforts to alter IIOJ&K demography

By Rasheed Khalid
May 16, 2024
Dr Serena Hussain, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, UK, speaks during an event. — PU Website/File
Dr Serena Hussain, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, UK, speaks during an event. — PU Website/File

Islamabad:Dr Serena Hussain, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, UK, has said that India, mindful of international pressure regarding the referendum in Jammu and Kashmir, has accelerated efforts to alter the demography of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K).

Dr Serena was speaking during a talk on organised here by Institute of Regional Studies. Dr Serena said that in the future, perhaps in 10 or 20 years, New Delhi might consider a referendum that could potentially be in India's favour.

Jammu and Kashmir had a diverse society comprising various castes and ethnic groups and the BJP government in India, fully cognizant of this fact, is exploiting these divisions for its own benefit, she emphasised. She believed that the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A had heightened feelings of alienation among the residents. She also mentioned that by March 2021, all 890 central laws of India had been extended to the disputed territory, with at least 205 of J&K's state laws had been revoked and an additional 129 laws undergoing modifications through various directives from the Indian government, she informed the participants.

She continued by stating that within a year since the revocation, over 185,000 domicile certificates had been issued to non-state subjects. “This meant that permanent residents would no longer be exclusively Kashmiri Muslims, Hindus and West Pakistani refugees but people from rest of India would also be included, she added.

Ms Serena argued that prior to the repeal of Article 370, non-residents were prohibited from obtaining permanent residency, owning property, holding government positions or exercising political influence. She also pointed out that demographic shifts had occurred not only in Jammu and Kashmir but also in other states across India. She observed that the implementation of the abrogation of Article 370 had even changed the views of BJP supporters in J&K as they were not consulted. She mentioned that the people of Jammu and Kashmir felt humiliated by the sudden Indian action of abrogating Articles 370 and 35A.

Referring to her discussions with Valley residents, she mentioned that at first, they believed that affluent individuals from Mumbai or Delhi would relocate to Kashmir. However, they later realised that it was not the wealthy but rather the impoverished from Bangalore or Bihar, lacking land or shelter, would be moving in. This influx would lead to a decrease in the Muslim population, she explained. While concluding the discussion, she mentioned that despite anomalies in J&K, the majority of the people were united in seeking self-determination and they asserted that it was not a religious struggle but a political one, she concluded.