As the surging cases of coronavirus in the Valley are leading to concern among people, the government’s midnight order spelling out domicile law and eligibility for employment has taken pandemic concern to the backseat and Kashmiris are taking to social media to express their views.
So far the number of the positive cases in Jammu and Kashmir has reached 55 and two persons have died while two have recovered. Of 55, 43 cases are from Kashmir and twelve are from Jammu.
For the past few weeks, Kashmiris were all concerned about the rising cases of Coronavirus and were urging each other to stay home. But the midnight order of the government that defined domicile has shifted the concern, at least on social media.
People have expressed their apprehensions that the new domicile law will have consequences on demography of the region. Others have equated it with the removal of Article 370 and Article 35A that stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status.
Iltija Mufti, daughter of jailed former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, said: “J&K’s new domicile law is part of a diabolical demographic project that began on 5th August with Article 370 abrogation. Imposing it in times of a global pandemic reveals a callous & paranoid mindset wilfully violating consent to ensure subjugation.”
She further wrote: “They are in a maddening rush to appropriate our land & resources. Wonder why they don’t show the same sense of urgency to save lives of thousands of Kashmiris jailed in & outside J&K?”
Iltija tweeted from the Twitter handle of her mother Mehbooba Mufti.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who was recently released after eight months of detention, also tweeted took to Twitter to express his concerns.
He wrote: “Talk about suspect timing. At a time when all our efforts & attention should be focused on the #COVID outbreak, the government slips in a new domicile law for J&K. Insult is heaped on injury when we see the law offers none of the protections that had been promised.”
In the next tweet, he said: " You can imagine how hollow the domicile law is from the fact that even the new party created with Delhi’s blessings, whose leaders were lobbying in Delhi for this law, have been forced to criticise the #JKdomicilelaw."
Under the law, the domiciles have been defined as those who have resided for a period of 15 years in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir or have studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Class 10/12 examination in an educational institution located in what is now a union territory.
The order in this regard was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Department of Jammu and Kashmir. The domiciles include children of those central government officials, All India services officers, officials of public sector undertaking and autonomous body of the central government, public sector banks, officials of statutory bodies, officials of central universities and recognized research institutes of the central government who have served in Jammu and Kashmir for a total period of ten years. The order has reserved fourth class jobs for residents of J&K.
Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party has also taken strong exception of it and described it as “casual attempt, cosmetic in nature, to hoodwink the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Interestingly, on March 15, the Union Home Minister Amit Shah had assured members of the newly-formed Apni Party of Jammu and Kashmir, led by Altaf Bukhari, that the government has not any intention to make “demographic changes” in the region.
Shah had informed the party delegation that J&K would have a “better domicile policy than other States in the country”. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Wednesday termed the central government order defining domicile law for J&K as frighteningly ambivalent, irresolute and akin to rubbing salt to the people's wounds.