The Jammu and Kashmir Study Center organized a webinar on the sidelines of the 45th session of United Nations Human Rights Council, highlighting the effects of domicile policy in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The speakers at the global event included Major Gaurav Arya (Retired)- Senior consulting editor for strategic affairs, Republic Media Network; Dr. Surinder Kaul- founding member of Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora; Yana Mirchandani- Editor-in-Chief, The Real Kashmir News Channel; Manu Khajuria- Founder, Voice of Dogra’s; Praveen Gupta- Coordinator, Friends of India – Colorado; and Radhika Gill- State-level athlete and Human Rights activist.
The webinar was held to discuss the positive effects of amendment of article 370 in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, that came in action on 5th August, 2019.
Along with the amendments in the article, the state was bifurcated in two Union Territories. This led to changes in the Citizenship laws that had earlier deprived certain marginalized communities like West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs), Gurkhas, Valmiki Dalit community, and children of Women married outside Jammu and Kashmir of their rights for decades; now they are eligible for their rightful Domicile Certificate.
West Pakistani Refugees were part of the Parliamentary electoral roll but not of the erstwhile state electoral roll. They will now be covered under the 15-year residence rule or their children under the 7 year/ class 10/12 rule.
To make the process easier, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has directed the relevant authorities that domicile certificates be issued to the Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) holders within five working days. Also, the Domicile Certificate is now issued at the Naib Tehsildar level.
All the speakers at the webinar reiterated that the government is taking successive steps in making the process of obtaining a domicile certificate easier. Even the Dogras and Pandits from Jammu and Kashmir who are now residing abroad but are eligible for Domicile certificate are keenly interested in obtaining it.
The speakers discussed the benefits of new domicile law, that included current and upcoming development projects in the UTs which were not possible without making changes in the special status of the former state.
Major Gaurav Arya debunked the myths related to the negative impact of article 370’s abrogation and informed viewers of various developmental projects already launched that would directly benefit the natives. He also enlightened the people about the issuance of domicile certificates and how natives do not need to panic thinking of losing their lands and employment opportunities.
Doctor Surinder Kaul spoke on the behalf of internally displaced Kashmiri Pandit community and threw light on how the abrogation of article 370 brings a ray of hope for those people to return to their homelands. He also spoke about the negligence of media and politicians on three-decade long displacement of the community.
Praveen Gupta, who has been an active member of group Friends of India said, “Separatists have been feeding lies to the people of Jammu and Kashmir while they bag the millions”.
He said that politicians who own multiple properties in the state and abroad will now have to justify their wealth and it won’t be easy anymore to forcefully acquire land from the people.
Manu Khajuria expressed her concerns regarding the development of Dogra community in Jammu and Kashmir adding that politically fueled terrorism in the former state impacted the development of all communities.
On the abrogation of article 370, she said “Maharaja Hari Singh, the last ruler of Kashmir who initiated the process of state subject allowed anyone who has resided in the state for 10 years or more to apply for the citizen rights. However, with time, the malicious politicians misled the people and implemented false criteria for one to claim his rights in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Meanwhile, Yana Mirchandani exposed the misinformation syndicate against vulnerable Kashmiris saying, “Separatists are feeding the minds of innocent Kashmiri people that the abrogation of article will lead to the changes in demography of Kashmir, which is a white lie! Like all states of India, when people go to other states, they delve into the culture of that place rather than implementing their own, thus keeping the spirit of that place alive.”
She also added, “The amendment has exposed Jammu and Kashmir to opportunities from foreign investors which will boost the stagnant development of economy.”