Members of several civil society groups in favour of the Centre’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status said the 25 foreign envoys, who were on a two-day visit to the newly created Union Territory, were shocked to hear about their conditions before the Centre’s August 5 decision.
The groups said that they had told the envoys that successive governments in the erstwhile state took advantage of Article 370 to deny them permanent residency and block admissions to professional colleges and jobs, despite the fact that they had lived there “since generations”.
“‘Is it so?”, some of them asked when we, in response to their query about our situation before the abrogation of Article 370, told them that we have been living here for past 200 years, but were not treated as permanent residents prior to August 5,” said Karun Gorka, president of a body that represents the Gorkha community.
“We told them how one Gagan Sahi, a member of the Gorkha community who won a gold for India in fencing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, could not get a job in the J&K government even though his family had lived here for generations. Later, he joined the Army,” said Manish Adhikar, president of the youth wing of the Gorkha community. “My brother is now a colonel, but he could not become a doctor as he was denied admission to MBBS as he did not possess a Permanent Resident Certificate.”
“We told them that we were enslaved and denied many rights due to Article 370 and post its abrogation, we have become free and now, our children will be eligible for admissions to professional colleges, get jobs and own land in J&K,” said Gharu Bhatti, a representative of the Valmiki Samaj.
Labha Ram Gandhi, a leader of West Pakistan refugees, too, supported the August 5 decision, saying it ensures parity among all residents.
The envoys were in Kashmir on Wednesday. Soon after their arrival in Jammu, they went to the High Court to meet Chief Justice Gita Mittal. Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu, his advisors Farooq Khan and K K Sharma, Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra, Principal Secretary (Industries and Commerce) M K Dwivedi and DGP Dilbag Singh were among those who met the members of the delegation during the day.
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