Hailing from Bihar’s Darbhanga district, Naveen Kumar Choudhary, Principal Secretary, Animal and Sheep Husbandry, has become the first senior IAS officer from outside Jammu and Kashmir to become a domicile of the Union Territory.
A domicile certificate was issued to Choudhary on Wednesday by the tehsildar of Jammu district’s Bahu, as per new rules notified last month for the issue of domicile certificates in the UT, given the change in status of J&K after abrogation of Article 370.
A 1994-batch J&K cadre IAS officer, Choudhary has been serving in J&K for 26 years. “I wanted the certificate and just applied for it,” he told The Indian Express, adding, “I am not seeking a job in J&K, as I already have one. Plus, I plan to live post-retirement in Gurgaon. I was entitled to the certificate and got it.”
At present, the domicile certificate only entitles one to a job in the UT government or admission into professional colleges run by it. Sources said that in the absence of any amendment in the UT’s existing land laws restricting purchases by outsiders, it does not entitle one to buy property in J&K.
Sources said that nearly 33,000 people have applied for domicile certificates across the UT since the new rules were notified, and over 25,000 issued the same. The number of those seeking domicile certificates in Kashmir is far less as compared to those in Jammu division.
In three days after the electronic application for granting domicile certificates opened on June 22 alone, over 6,000 applications were received. About 65% of these till June 25 (over 3,900) were from the Jammu region. A majority, however, were from those who already hold Permanent Residence Certificates of the erstwhile state.
As per the new rules, people residing in the UT for 15 years, or those who have studied in it for seven years, or appeared in the Class 10 or 12 examination from an educational institution in the region, as well as their children, are eligible for domicile. Also eligible are children of officials of the Central government, all India services, banks and PSUs, statutory bodies and Central universities, who have served in J&K for 10 years.
Migrants and their children registered with the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner, and children of those J&K residents who live outside the UT for employment, business, or other professional or vocational reasons, can also get domicile.
As the news of Choudhary receiving a domicile certificate came, the National Conference as well as the Peoples Democratic Party reiterated their opposition to the new rules. NC chief spokesperson Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi said, “All the misgivings raised after the domicile laws were changed are coming to the fore.” The measure is aimed at “disempowering the permanent residents politically and economically”, he added.
The PDP accused the Centre of trying to do “demographic flooding in Jammu and Kashmir while plundering people of their identity and constitutional guarantees”.
Back in Darbhanga, Choudhary’s father Devkant Choudhary called the issue of J&K domicile certificate to him “a success of the vision of PM Narendra Modi”. “It could become possible only after Article 370 was abrogated (by the BJP government).”
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