Kashmir parties slam domicile order, call it insulting

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Srinagar, April 1 (IANS) Taking a strong exception to the central government order defining domicile law for Jammu and Kashmir, the Apni Party (JKAP) president Altaf Bukhari on Wednesday demanded that the order be put in abeyance till the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

“It is most unfortunate that such an important order has been issued at a time when the whole country is battling for its survival and is under strict lockdown to stem the 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 union government reflects a casual exercise carried out at bureaucratic level without taking aspirations and expectations of people into consideration,” Bukhari said.

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,” the JKAP president remarked.

He said that being a government issued order and not a law made by the Parliament, the new gazette notification regarding domicile rule for J&K is not immune to any 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 observed.

Commenting on various vague sections of the order, the JKAP president demanded threadbare discussions with all stake holders of Jammu and Kashmir to be held at an appropriate time to remove these anomalies.

The section of the Order pertaining to “The Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Decentralization and Recruitment) Act” providing protections to jobs for the residents of Jammu and Kashmir up to a definite pay scale (Level 4/25500), Bukhari said the same has left other level of government jobs free for all, which is totally unacceptable to JKAP.

“This section of the order is antithesis to what was promised by the Prime Minister and Home Minister on the floor of Parliament assuring a better domicile law for the residents of J&K than what is being enjoyed by the people in other states of the country,” he added.

Bukhari said that the order has also paved way for inclusion and declaring children of those central government officials, all India services officers, officials of PSUs and autonomous body of central government, public sector banks, officials of statutory bodies, officials of central universities and recognised research institutes of central government who have served in Jammu and Kashmir for a total period of ten years or children whose parents fulfil any of the conditions mentioned in the order, as domiciles of J&K, which has diluted the purpose of privileges enjoyed by the J&K residents prior to October 31, 2019.

The JKAP president said the introduction of clause expanding to include those who have studied for a period of seven years and appeared in class 10th/12th examination in an educational institution located in the UT of J&K is totally contradictory and provides a tunnel for the non residents of J&K to easily encroach upon the job protections which were available to them prior to October 31, 2019.

Meanwhile J&K Peoples Conference has in a statement said the order falls way short of expectations even for those who expected some relief and reconciliation.

It said the new definition of ‘domicile’ is humiliating and insulting and 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. 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 5,” the statement said.