The abrogation of J&K’s special status and bifurcation into two union territories has led to much discontent against the Indian state. Now the issuing of domicile certificates to non-locals has angered people. The new domicile rules have been declared as unconstitutional and arbitrary by the region’s two political rivals, NC and PDP, while the Congress has termed it “morally and ethically wrong”. It hasn’t, however, deterred the BJP from going ahead with it.
Some perceive it as an attempt to change the demography of J&K. On the ground a new rhetoric is gaining ground among the locals, especially the educated youth of Kashmir Valley, who are deprived of employment opportunities as well as suitable conditions for business and enterprise.
While a larger group of original inhabitants (natives) have started applying for the domicile certificates, a lot of unemployed youth are in no mood to apply for the same, rejecting the domicile rules as tyrannical.
“We will not apply for the domicile certificate. We were born and brought up here in Kashmir Valley. How can a piece of paper attest to our existence here? Why are we time and again asked to surrender in front of such arbitrary diktats from the Indian state? This is injustice and an affront to our dignity. We will eat vegetables instead of meat, but will not bow down our heads.” Such are the statements that our young graduates are making.
They are for sure not bothered about government jobs. What concerns them most is the safety of their motherland, its culture and history. J&K in general and the conflict-ridden Kashmir Valley in particular has not seen any recruitment drive since Articles 370 and 35A were unilaterally scrapped by the BJP-led central government last year. But the recent recruitment drive initiated by government in various departments, the registration process for which has already begun, comes as a relief to some. However, the majority of youth has decided to abstain from filling the application forms, calling it a lollipop from the administration to silence the pro-freedom movement that has intensified post scrapping of Article 370.
As per the recruitment notification only those people can apply who are the domiciles of J&K. They will have to submit a copy of their domicile certificate at the time of selection by the recruitment board. Earlier, Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) was proof of residence in J&K but after the loss of special status, it has been replaced by the new domicile certificate. Domiciles are defined as those who have resided in Jammu and Kashmir for a period of 15 years, or have studied here for seven years and appeared in Class 10/12 examinations.
Now since these young men are reluctant to apply for the domicile certificate, without which they cannot get a government job, the question arises: what is in store for them? How are they going to survive without a job? What is brewing in their minds about their plans for the future?
Although some people are ready to go for private sector jobs, but keeping in view the situation in Kashmir that remains tense due to conflict and insurgency, there is not much scope in this field either.
Presently these unemployed people may be in tens, but tomorrow they will increase to hundreds, and after sometime there will be thousands more. What option they are left with? What will they do if they are not employed? Will it lead to their radicalisation and ultimately to joining militant ranks?
It is no doubt a matter of grave concern for all of us, particularly persons at the helm of administrative affairs. If these educated people are alienated in such a way, the time will soon arrive when they will take decisions that will bring untold miseries not just on themselves but on their families and the on the society in general. Before it is too late, let we all wake-up from this slumber.
Firdous Khan is a Freelance Journalist based in Kashmir and can be reached at [email protected]