Kashmir Muslims fear Demographic Shift as Thousands of Indians get Residency
Almost 32,000 applications were filed in 10 districts of the Hindu-majority Jammu region.
Up to 25,000 people have been granted domicile certificates in Indian-occupied Kashmir, raising fears of the start of demographic changes in the Muslim-majority region.
The certificate entitles a person to residency and government jobs in the region, which till last year was reserved only for the locals.
Article 35 (A) had earlier barred Indians from other states from settling to maintain the demographic balance in the region.
On Friday, a picture of a certificate issued to Navin Kumar Choudhary, a bureaucrat from of Bihar, went viral on social media.
The government had notified about domicile laws in April this year, during the coronavirus lockdown.
According to this law, any person who has lived in the region for 15 years, or has studied in the area for seven years is eligible for domicile certificate.
“This is the start of Kashmir becoming another Palestine,” said Badar-Ul-Islam, a resident of Srinagar.
‘Disastrous’ for the region
Khurram Parvez, a human rights activist from Srinagar, said the move was “disastrous’ for the whole region.
Kashmiri politicians have also said the revocation of exclusive citizenship rights was aimed at reversing the Muslim majority character of the region.
The local legislature, which was democratically elected, was suspended in the wake of the scrapping of Article 370 last year.
Omar Abdullah, the previous chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, expressed his discontent with the decision.
All our misgivings about the new domicile rules in J&K are coming to the fore. We in @JKNC_ opposed the changes because we could see the nefarious design behind the changes. The people of J&K on both sides of the Pir Panjal mountains will be the sufferers of these domicile rules.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) June 26, 2020
The Indian authorities say the move to change the status was made to ‘integrate’ the region with the rest of the country to bring ‘development.’
Most certificates issued in Jammu region
Almost 32,000 applications were filed in 10 districts of the Hindu-majority Jammu region. The most number of 8,500 certificates has been issued in the Doda district, which has a delicate demographic balance, with Hindus comprising 45.76% and Muslims 53.81%.
In Kashmir Valley, which is about 96.4% Muslim population, 435 certificates have been issued so far, out of the total 720 applications.
Parvez said the local government, which takes orders from New Delhi, has threatened to penalize officials Rs 50,000 if a certificate is not issued within 14 days.
“The authorities have already warned those who oppose will go to jail.” Parvez lamented people were not in support of the law but cannot oppose “under the pressure of gun and state violence.”