By Arun Joshi
With the change in the domicile policy for J&K, tens of thousands of men married to the native J&K girls will now be eligible to become domicile and all the benefits available to the natives of this union territory.
This is for the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir since 1925 when the state subject law was introduced by Dogra rulers that the girls married to the outsiders would be able to get domicile for their husbands . Earlier, this was limited only to the daughters of the state of J&K, that, too, after a historic judgment of the High Court that dismissed the clause in the Permanent Residents Certificate Act barring girls married outside from acquiring or inheriting immovable properties of their parents. Now with the further modification in the policy, all the men married to the J&K girls would be eligible to become domicile of J&K . They have to produce the domicile certificate of their spouse as a primary document .
This has changed the whole scenario in J&K. It paves the way for tens of thousands of men who have married girls of J&K to claim all the rights which were enjoyed by the natives of J&K . The domicile policy that was first introduced as a substitute to the state subject or the permanent resident law of J&K in April 2020 did not have this provision , which was introduced by the government on Tuesday.
It has undone injustice to which the “ daughters of J&K” were subjected to by the discriminatory law . This was a long-pending demand of the parents whose daughters were married outside J&K state/UT. But most of the girls of Hindu dominated Jammu region are married to the men from outside . There are very few Kashmiri Muslim girls married to the “outsiders”, for they prefer to live in a close-knit society of Kashmir where they love their culture and traditions and want to stay close to their families .
The BJP leaders, as expected, have expressed their gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Lieutenant Governor of J&K, Manoj Sinha for this “ historic decision.” “ We have no words to thank the Centre for doing away with the discrimination that had violated the law of equality,” said Ravinder Raina , president of the BJP unit of J&K .
Ever since Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir state and Article 35 A , which conferred rights to land and jobs exclusively to the permanent residents of J&K , were done away with and the erstwhile state divided into two union territories – J&K, and Ladakh,, on August 5, 2019 , it was expected that such a decision would be taken. These expectations had gone up after the West Pakistan refugees , Valmikis and Gorkhas were given citizenship rights . Most of the families of these categories have married their daughters in Punjab and other parts of the country.
Several hundreds of Kashmiri Pandit migrant girls , too, married to the non-permanent residents of J&K . Kashmiri Pandits boys also have married the girls from different parts of the world . This will entitle their spouses to have land in J&K , and also compete for jobs and opportunities to set up businesses .
This, however, will add to the arguments of those opposing the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35 A , that this is yet another step to change the demography of the Muslim majority J&K..
Their fear is that not only the husbands and children of the such girls would buy property in J&K , but also that since they are having a system sympathetic to the non-J&K residents , their extended families too may overwhelm J&K and push the real natives to a corner .
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with