Outsiders shifted to Kashmir
Fears grow as India grants residency to 25,000 nonlocals in disputed state
Fears of demographic engineering in Jammu and Kashmir are coming true following the Indian government’s acceptance of 25,000 residency applications from outsiders.
In April Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced a new set of laws giving domicile rights to non-Kashmiri Indians, a move which analysts said was aimed at altering the demographic character of the country’s only Muslim-majority region.
Reports indicate that more than 33,000 residence applications have been received, mostly in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region, and 25,000 of those have been accepted since mid-May. The local government spokesperson refused to comment.
Those who have lived in the state for 15 years, or studied there for seven, are eligible to become permanent residents. Registered migrants and the children of central government officials who have served in Jammu and Kashmir for a period of 10 years are also allowed to acquire domicile certificates.
Earlier Navin Kumar Choudhary, a resident of the eastern state of Bihar who was a top bureaucrat in Jammu for 26 years, became the first nonlocal official to get a domicile certificate under the new law.
“All our misgivings about the new domicile rules in Jammu and
Kashmir are coming to the fore,” the state’s former chief minister and National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah said in a statement on Friday. “The NC opposed the changes because we could see a nefarious design behind the changes,” he said.
NC spokesman Imran Nabi on Saturday described the development as “the last nail in the coffin and injustice” to the people of Kashmir.
“This is a direct attack on our land and jobs,” he told Arab News. According to the region’s former ruling People’s Democratic Party, New Delhi was seeking to alter Kashmir’s identity.
“As the agenda unfolds, it becomes clear that along with the intended demographic change, the target is the jobs, natural resources, cultural identity and everything that the people of Kashmir had tried to save by acceding to India with firm constitutional guarantees,” it said. Turmoil in the state intensified last year when New Delhi annulled Article 370 of the country’s constitution, which had guaranteed it special autonomous status as well as granting locals exclusive land and job rights.
NC spokesman Imran Nabi described the development as ‘the last nail in the coffin and injustice’ to the people of Kashmir.