It seems like COVID19 has shielded a lot of political moves around the world specially territories which are under conflict. The lockdown due to COVID19 has lubricated the infusion of such political decisions which would have radically sparked unrest and heavy resistance.

One such place is Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, which is experiencing dense diplomatic limelight of BJP’s politics, who is not missing any chance to strengthen their control for domination of their Hindu nationalist ideology the cost of democracy.

With the country under lockdown, restriction on any type of congregation and health crisis due to COVD19, Indian home ministry, under the minister Amit Shah, has announced a new set of laws for Indian-administered Kashmir, including domicile rights for Indian citizens, that experts and residents fear will alter the demographic status of the Muslim-majority Himalayan region.

According to order issued on 31 March, all non-J&K locals — who have stayed here 15 years, served in central government services for 10 years, studied in the state for seven years and appeared in either the Class 10 or the Class 12 examinations, migrants registered by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner and children of those who fill the above criteria as well as children of officials in other government services were made domiciles and eligible for government jobs.

Both non-domiciles and domiciles (including natives and non-natives) could apply for all categories of jobs except for non-gazette class four ones which were specially reserved for domiciles. The orders also empower tehsildars to issue domicile certificates. The government has been empowered to notify any other officer as the competent authority to issue the certificate.

Furthermore, in Sections 6, 7 and 8 of the J&K Civil Services Act, 2010, which deal with appointments at district, divisional and state levels, the words “permanent resident of the State” have been substituted with “Domicile of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir”. The mandatory residence clause which barred inter-district appointment or inter-division appointment across Jammu and Kashmir has also been omitted.

The decision from Delhi has brought great anxiety among Kashmiris who are already being deprived of carrying out there potential business activities while being in majority, what would be the scenario when a nationalist government would practice an ethnic favorism in such areas over a large Muslim popularity.

IMPLICATIONS

The new domicile law will make all government scale jobs available to nonnatives. It would encourage people from other regions to become domiciled in IOJK which would not only reshape demographics but also increase the competitions over the jobs, which should have been allocated among the locals to fill their job crises specially in government sectors. Due to majority of Muslims in the area there was not much of choice but to hire local Muslim population for such positions, which seems like the Hindu nationalist government was not comfortable with. These positions include including those in police and administration, which means they will now be able to serve in such positions as station house officers and senior superintendents of police, besides secretaries, head of departments, deans and professors in state-owned universities, which are clear key positions to effectively control any region. Under Article 370, land and jobs in the region were strictly reserved for “permanent residents,” a term that under the new law has been changed to domiciles. Under the new law, initially, only the lowly fourth-class jobs were reserved for locals. Following a backlash in the region, more so in Hindu-majority Jammu, the BJP’s stronghold, the law was amended to reserve all jobs for the domiciles.

The situation is also alarming for Pakistan who has its claims over IOJK and has been fighting for the people of Kashmir that they be granted the right of self-determination and plebiscite to be conducted, the demographic shift in IOJK has already begun and Modi administration is very keen to take any steps that would make Pakistan think twice before raising the point of self determination and plebiscite in near future.

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