SRINAGAR/JAMMU: Several political parties in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday voiced their disappointment over the amendments to the domicile law for the Union Territory, saying these “cosmetic” and “token concessions” offered fell short of their expectations.
National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah said the people of Jammu and Kashmir should get to decide the laws to govern themselves rather than being subjected to the whims and fancies of the Centre.
“It’s high time the people of J&K get to decide the laws that will govern them rather than being subjected to the whims & fancies of the Centre where orders are issued in the morning & changes to the same order issued in the evening. Restore statehood, conduct elections. #Democracy,” the former chief minister of the erstwhile state wrote on Twitter.
Omar’s party – the National Conference – in a statement said the amendments were cosmetic in nature and there was no doubt that the domicile law would change the demography of J&K and would essentially rob the rights of the locals to jobs.
The Central government has amended its two-day-old order and reserved all jobs in Jammu and Kashmir for the domiciles of the Union territory — people who have stayed there for at least 15 years.
On Wednesday, while laying down the rules for domiciles, the government had reserved jobs up to group 4 only.
However, following angry reactions from local political parties, an amended gazette notification — titled the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order-2020 — was put out on Friday night, reserving jobs for the domiciles of the UT, which was formed in October last year after the Centre withdrew the special status of the erstwhile state and announced its bifurcation.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) termed the amendments “token concessions”, saying the Centre should have addressed the apprehensions regarding “assault” on demography of J&K.
“While securing the future of our youth is pivotal, GOI should’ve addressed the apprehension regarding assault on demography of J&K. Token concession with a backdoor left wide open in the form of new domiciles does nothing to mitigate the aspersions cast on GOI’s urgent move during a life threatening pandemic,” the PDP said on its official Twitter handle.
PDP spokesperson and former legislator Firdous Tak said a law which is to govern 12 million population of Jammu and Kashmir was so offhandedly drafted that the Union government had to change it within 72 hours.
He said the domicile law, even in amended form, was “dangerous” and only portrays the real intention of people sitting in the power corridors.
“The basics of domicile law now remains unchanged whereby people from outside the union territory, who have been residing here for 15 years, the employees of central government and PSUs and others will get an equal opportunity to compete for the limited jobs in the government sector,” Tak said in a statement.
He said the law would only open flood gates at the disadvantage of the educated and uneducated youth of Jammu and Kashmir.
“The turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir is one of the major disadvantages for the local youth, wedging their growth besides almost negligible options in the private sector,” the PDP spokesperson added.
However, welcoming the amendments, J&K Congress vice president and former minister G M Saroori congratulated the people for remaining united and “forcing the Centre to amend the order for the better future of Jammu and Kashmir”.
He urged the Government to fulfill the cherished demand of the local residents for restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.
Also, the recently-floated Jammu Kashmir Apni Party’s (JKAP) president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari welcomed the Centre’s move, but pledged to continue the party’s efforts to get the law revisited in its entirety to remove the remaining loopholes till it satisfies the aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Extending gratitude to Union Home Minster Amit Shah and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, the JKAP president said their timely and personal intervention made the much needed amendments to domicile law possible in a very short span of time.
Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference chief spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu said despite the amendments, the domicile order still fell short of the expectations.
“In spite of the ‘amendment’, #Domicile Order still falls short of expectations in content and context as well. Content wise the definition of domicile is as eroded as it was on Aug 5. Context wise begging and throwing bread crumbs defines the new state of affairs it seems (sic),” Mattu said on Twitter.
Senior CPM leader Mohammad Yosuf Tarigami noted that the widespread resentment across Jammu and Kashmir over the domicile law for appointments in government sector forced the central government to amend the legal framework to reserve all gazetted and non-gazetted posts for J&K domiciles.
Meanwhile, National Conference provincial president Devender Singh Rana sought exclusive rights over the government jobs in the Union Territory for the permanent residents as per the law enacted by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927.