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May 21, 2020

Domicile law in Kashmir

Editorial

 
May 21, 2020

Ever since the new domicile was introduced in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), the people of Kashmir have almost unanimously rejected attempts to change the demography of this region. The National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are just two of the major parties that have called the J&K Reorganization (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020, and the J&K Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules 2020, as unjust and discriminatory. The erstwhile State of J&K that was illegally and unconstitutionally incorporated into India has been up in arms and nearly every other day skirmishes are taking place between the freedom fighters and the Indian security forces in IOK. The amended domicile law is an offshoot of the J&K Reorganization Act (2019) that has already been challenged in numerous petitions before the Supreme Court.

On May 19, Pakistan also once again strongly condemned and rejected the new rules. These rules announced and enforced by the Indian authorities are a desperate attempt by the BJP government to pave the way for non-Kashmiris to seek permanent settlement in the disputed territories. It is worth recalling that on August 5, 2019, the Indian government unilaterally imposed a decision to unlawfully annex the Occupied Jammu and Kashmir into India. This was in part fulfillment of the longstanding promise by the BJP in previous elections. Now the Indian authorities have notified new rules permitting all those who have lived in occupied Jammu and Kashmir for 15 years or studied there for seven years to apply for a domicile. To make it more convenient, the Indian government has also been lenient with those who appeared in class 10th or 12th examinations in Kashmir; they may also avail themselves of this opportunity. To get any government job in the disputed territory, it is mandatory that the applicant have a local domicile. So, with this controversial step, the Indian government is not only planning to permanently settle the outsiders in Kashmir but also allow them to get government jobs and register businesses. In this manner the local people will be deprived of jobs that should only belong to them.

With the controversial Act already challenged in the court, the constitutional validity of any such step will be questionable. And the occupation of Kashmir is not accepted by the international community and there are multiple UN resolutions that forbid India from taking any such action to annex Kashmir or change its status in any way. The same applies to the demographic composition that needs to be preserved to safeguard the interests of the Kashmiri people. Even according to the constitution of India and the universally accepted principle of constitutional proprietary, the government of India is both legally and morally bound to desist from using powers under a controversial and impugned Act. The Indian government should immediately stop exercising powers to promulgate domicile law and disputed rules in question. The people of Kashmir have already been greatly alienated and the gap between Kashmiri aspirations and Indian attempts to annex is wide enough to prompt international action in this regard. No disempowering of local people should be allowed anywhere in the world.