It is argued that the Centre’s Kashmir policy will lead to the natio...

  Jun 17, 2020

It is argued that the Centre’s Kashmir policy will lead to the nations paying a heavy price. Do you agree? Discuss in the context of new domicile law and other changes made.

  1. While public attention is focused on COVID-19, Jammu and Kashmir suffers twin lockdowns, rising violence and unilateral government actions, all at the same time. 
  2. In the 12 months of the government since 2019, Kashmir policy has comprised of measures that are perceived as disasters in the Valley, garner mixed reactions in Jammu and Ladakh, and are welcomed by some in the rest of India.
  3. The latest of these actions is the new domicile rules, notified on May 18, 2020. 
  4. Based on the Home Ministry’s order of March 31, these rules seek to replace the Jammu and Kashmir State subjects law, recognised under Article 35A of the Indian Constitution, which entitled permanent residents of the State to free education along with reservation of government jobs, and sole rights to land ownership.
  5. The new domicile rules entitle anyone who has worked or lived in the State for 15 years, or studied there for seven years, to receive a domicile certificate and the benefits previously reserved for permanent residents. 
  6. These rules also entitle Union government officials who have served in the State for 10 years to domicile.
  7. Some argue that the new domicile rules were necessary since many marginalised groups were denied their rights under the State subject law, such as refugees from west Pakistan. 
  8. The argument is ill-founded. The administration could have expanded the permanent resident category to include these groups, without doing away with it altogether? 
  9. How can it possibly be necessary for 12 million people to reapply for domicile when the groups to benefit number a few lakhs?
  10.  After making it an UT, the State police was put under direct rule by the Union Home Ministry. 
  11. The Upper House of the Assembly was abolished. Land was requisitioned for sale to industry, national tourist conglomerates were invited to take over what was a flourishing local industry, and mining rights were sold to non-Kashmiri contractors. 
  12. All the former State’s statutory bodies were dissolved, including the State Human Rights Commission. Power was concentrated in the hands of the Lieutenant-Governor and his advisers, all but one of whom were from outside the former State.
  13. The Jammu and Kashmir Legislature remains dissolved, many of its political leaders remain under detention and forbidden to speak, a ban remains in force on all public gatherings and the media are intimidated. 
  14. Most people in Jammu and Kashmir saw Article 35A and the State subject law as the last remaining bastion of the State’s internal autonomy, guaranteed under the instrument of accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh. 
  15. With the fall of this last bastion Article 35A, disaffection has exponentially multiplied in Jammu and Kashmir. 
  16. Armed encounters are on the rise and the security situation is extremely fragile. 
  17. Blaming it on Pakistan is futile. Pakistan has always taken advantage of disaffection in the Valley, indeed China is now doing so too. 
  18. As a result of the administration’s Kashmir policy, India will have to face mounting security threats on its western front, and the people of Jammu and Kashmir the systematic denial of their rights.