The Central government recently came out with a new domicile policy for Jammu and Kashmir which can be seen as the logical sequel to its decision to abrogate Article 370 and Section 35 A. This new policy has redefined domiciles as those who have resided in the area for more than 15 years or have studied for 7 years and appeared in class 10th or 12th board examinations from an educational institution located in Kashmir.
There are a great number of people who will receive tremendous advantage by this new policy. Firstly, this new domicile policy will benefit the 1.5 lakh refugees from West Pakistan who have been residing in the region for a very long time (ever since 1947) but hadn’t received residentship of Jammu and Kashmir since it was a matter under the Jammu and Kashmir state assembly. The beneficiaries also include Kashmiri women who had married outside the region.
Due to the earlier law, these women were forced to lose all privileges of holding a domicile, but now this won’t happen. Another major section of the people who’ll be positively affected by this change in policy includes the 40,000 people belonging to the Scheduled Castes category who have been residing in the state for the past 6 decades but still haven’t got their domicile status.
Officials of the Central government and their children would also benefit from this move as they would also get domicile status. It can be calculated that the Center has taken this step to allay the fear which haunted the minds of the people living in Jammu and Kashmir that jobs in the valley would be taken up by outsiders after the abrogation of Article 370 and Section 35 A.
These fears were fueled by the anxiety of the people that outsiders may come in and change the demographic structure of Jammu and Kashmir, however with this new policy by the Central government, this apprehension has been removed from the minds of the people. Hence, this new policy can also be seen as a crucial aspect of the Center’s efforts to bring permanent peace in Jammu and Kashmir after the long-sought abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A by the government.
The Center, along with this new domicile policy has also introduced a new norm which dictates that all the jobs in the Jammu and Kashmir government would be reserved for the domiciles. Earlier, the center had released a gazette notification that restricted jobs up to Group-4 level for the Jammu and Kashmir domiciles, but seeing the reaction of the general public in the region, the government was quick to amend this and reserve all the jobs for the domiciles.
This is a clear reflection of how the Center has had an “ear to the ground approach” and how sensitive it is with the issue of bringing peace in the valley and the region of Jammu. Efforts of the government have also been praised by nationalist organizations like the RSS, who have exclaimed their satisfaction at the government’s approach and decisions. Hopefully, the progress regarding bringing back peace in Jammu and Kashmir continues to bring in normalcy for the Union Territory’s further integration with our country.