New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The abrogation of Article-370 last year, among other positive reactionary developments in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, had brought forth a rare sigh of respite among the descendants of at least 500 Gorkha families who fought alongside Dogra army during colonial times, and 5,764 Dalit families who migrated to Jammu after partition mainly from Sialkot district of Pakistani Punjab.

Both Gorkhas and West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) living in different parts of Jammu for several generations, before 5th of August, 2019, were denied the Permanent Residency Certificates (PRCs) since their descendants were not the residents of  Jammu and Kashmir (which includes PoK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Aksai Chin). Due to which, despite being the Indian Nationals, these communities did not have the right to own property in J&K, employment by the state/UT government and vote in the assembly elections.

What is J&K Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules, 2020

On Monday, May 18th, the J&K administrative Council headed by Governor GC Murmu, notified Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules, 2020. The new domicile law replaced almost a century-old ‘state subject law’ which barred non-permanent residents from owning land and immovable property in the erstwhile state.

Under the law, the Permanent Residency Certificates (PRCs) have been defined as those who have resided for a period of 15 years in the erstwhile state of J&K, those have studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Class 10th /12th examination in educational institutes located in J&K. This automatically makes over five lakh WPRs and Gorkha descendants eligible for a government job in J&K and land-owning rights among other major additions of constitutional equality.

Further detailing upon the procedure for issuance of Domicile Certificate, it states that 15 days will be required for issuance of a PRC, after which the applicant shall be free to approach an Appellate Authority. The rules simplified the ground for availing a one-time compensation of Rs Five Lakh (announced in 2018) for West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) by replacing the requirement of succession certificates with a Legal Heir certificate issued by the concerned tehsildar.

Noise of ‘Demographic Change’ with distribution of 25,000 PRCs

On Saturday, the Governor GC Murmu-led J&K administration started an exercise to distribute Permanent Residency Certificates in organised camps, among West Pakistan refugees which includes Valmiki Samaj members in overwhelming numbers, and the Gorkha-families living in different parts of Jammu who were denied the basic residency rights until last year due to the presence of Article 370. Among those who were given a Permanent Residency Certificate, also included Navin Kumar Choudhary, a Jammu and Kashmir-cadre IAS officer, which has created an uproar in the volatile political circles of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The applicant is eligible in terms of the following clause of Rule 5 of the Jammu and Kashmir Grant Domicile Certificate (Production) Rules, 2020,” reads the IAS-officer’s certificate issued by the Government.

The PDP alleged that the government at-centre through the new Domicile rules was attempting to change the erstwhile state’s Muslim majority character, while targeting its unique identity and facilitating ‘loot’ of its resources. The National Conference also echoed the same standpoint, citing it to be an attempt for ‘demographic change’ in J&K.

About 25,000 Permanent Residency Certificates have been reportedly distributed so-far, bringing these many PRC-holders at par with the already-held permanent citizens of J&K with respect to the constitutional equality and similar proclamation of the essential residency rights.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta