Srinagar: The J&K domicile law cleared by the government of India on Wednesday drew sharp criticism from the political parties in Kashmir.
National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Peoples Conference, CPI (M) as well as the nascent political party J&K Apni Party opposed the move and questioned the timing.
“Talk about suspect timing. At a time when all our efforts & attention should be focused on the #COVID outbreak the government slips in a new domicile law for J&K. Insult is heaped on injury when we see the law offers none of the protections that had been promised,” National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said in a series of tweets.
The former chief minister said the new law was so hollow that even politicians with “Delhi’s blessings” were forced to criticise it. You can imagine how hollow the domicile law is from the fact that even the new party created with Delhi’s blessings, whose leaders were lobbying in Delhi for this law, have been forced to criticise the #JKdomicilelaw,” he added.
Omar was apparently referring to the criticism of the domicile law by Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party founder Altaf Bukhari.
The government on Wednesday issued a gazette notification announcing a slew of amendments to 138 Acts of Jammu and Kashmir that included protecting jobs up to Group-4 for only those who are domicile of the union territory.
The PDP said the rules will give rise to massive problems for residents of J&K.
The domicile law as it appears is not only trying to shake the boundaries of an already existing state, but it is also trying to give rise to massive problems for residents of J&K, the PDP said on its official Twitter handle.
The party said the GoI’s manipulation of the law would only further alienate the people.
“As the GOI (government of India) tries to manipulate a law that provides guarantees to Kashmiris, it is only further alienating people, by depriving them of their constitutional rights. When GOI imposes orders that relegate elected Kashmiri leaders to nothingness, GOI shows how it doesn’t want local Kashmiris to govern the land they fought for!” the PDP said.
Peoples Conference led by Sajad Gani Lone said the presidential order defining the domicile law issued at the depth of night while the world is under the grip of a deadly pandemic, falls way short of expectations even for those who expected some relief and some reconciliation process.
“The new definition of ‘domicile’ is humiliating and insulting. Adds insult to injury. Doing away with district and divisional recruitment is an affront to the concept of affirmative action. We had no expectations, but this particular order has made the disappointment even more intense,” party chief spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu said.
He said the government of the day has embarked on an erroneous path and seems to be in no mood to rectify wrongs and instead is content to be deluded in the world of ‘we know the best’ for J&K and its people .
“The lowest rung in jobs has been reserved for locals – not even non-gazetted, but Class IV jobs. There seems to be a clear intent of conveying yet another serving of humiliation and insult to the people of J&K after what transpired in August 5th.
What is ironically historical though is that in the middle of one of the worst medical disasters facing the world, the Government of the day has the time and patience to script a disaster of its own. During the COVID19 battle, the people of J&K didn’t deserve more humiliation,” he added.
Similarly, Jammu Kashmir Apni Party said it was most unfortunate that such an important order was issued at a time when the entire country was battling for its survival and was under strict lockdown to stem spread of deadly Coronavirus disease.
“While JKAP had been vehemently demanding Domicile Rights on land and jobs for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the order issued by the government reflects a casual exercise carried out at bureaucratic level without taking aspirations and expectations of people into consideration,” JKAP president Syed Altaf Bukhari said in a statement here.
He demanded that the order be put in abeyance till the country is out of dangers arising out of COVID-19.
“This order in its entirety is a casual attempt, cosmetic in nature, to hoodwink the people of Jammu and Kashmir who genuinely believed that post October 31, 2019 their rights and privileges in the matter of employment and other rights would remain as it had been,” he said.
Bukhari said being a government issued order and not a law made by Parliament, the new gazette notification regarding domicile rule for J&K is not immune to a judicial review.
“The order issued is totally unacceptable to JKAP. In the matter of employment non Gazetted, Gazetted posts in the service and admissions to professional colleges, a tangible legal and constitutional mechanism was supposed to be put in place to safeguard and protect these privileges of the people of Jammu and Kashmir who had been the permanent residents of J&K,” Bukhari said.
CPI (M) leader MY Tarigami said that order is another hoax by the BJP leadership with the people of J&K.
“It has escalated fears among the residents of Jammu and Kashmir losing not only jobs but also land to outsiders post revocation of Article 370 that granted J&K special status,” he said.