Major changes in domicile laws in Kashmir

New Delhi/Islamabad – The union government has made new domicile laws applicable in Kashmir through a notification. As per these new laws, any person who has stayed in Kashmir for more than 15 years or studied in Kashmir for seven years will be considered a citizen of the union territory. Students who have appeared for the 10th or 12th standard examination from there will also be eligible to obtain a Kashmir resident certificate. This will enable these people to purchase property in Kashmir, and they will qualify for reservations in government jobs. The special status enjoyed by Jammu-Kashmir was withdrawn last year in August with the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Thereafter, the government has taken this major decision to change the domicile laws.

The union government issued a Gazette notification regarding the domicile certificate for the union territory. This has changed the residency laws applicable in the union territory. Anyone who has stayed for more than 15 years in the state will be eligible for the original resident certificate of the union territory. Their children will also qualify for the certificate. The students who have attended schools and colleges for seven years and also those who have appeared for the 10th and 12th standard board examinations from the union territory will be eligible for the Kashmir domicile certificate. After receiving this certificate, they will be eligible for the reserved posts in the class four category in the government. The class four-category jobs in Jammu-Kashmir are reserved only for people belonging to the union territory. These include jobs up to the level of head constable in the police department.

Since the last 70 years, Jammu-Kashmir had a special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Article 35 A under this, reserved the rights to purchase property and employment only for the residents of Kashmir. With the abrogation of Article 370, Article 35A became ineffective. The state of Jammu-Kashmir was divided into two union territories. The two union territories of Ladakh and Jammu-Kashmir were created. After eight months of abrogation of Article 370, the union government has announced significant amendments in the residency laws. This has relaxed many laws to obtain a resident certificate. Even the police officials deployed there will benefit from the changing laws. Children of many officials were facing difficulties in finding jobs even after completing their education there.

Meanwhile, some of the local political parties have opposed the amended laws. These parties criticised that the government has unnecessarily brought these laws at a time when the entire focus should be on winning over the Coronavirus pandemic. Intense reactions have also been received from Pakistan over the amendments to the residency laws. Pakistan will oppose this step taken by the Indian government. Aisha Farooqui, the spokeswoman of the Pakistan foreign ministry, reacted that these changes are illegal and are in violation of the international regulations and the Geneva convention.

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