The plan by the Jammu and Kashmir administration under Governor Satya Pal Malik, to bring in procedural changes in the grant of permanent resident certificates (PRCs), is snowballing into a major controversy, with political parties warning of a “2008-like” agitation.
Calling Jammu and Kashmir a sensitive state, the political parties have warned of “serious ramifications” in case of any changes to the PRC rules.
“An unwanted order for land transfer was also issued in 2008 and a public uprising across Kashmir forced the then government to withdraw the order,” former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti told a local news agency.
“This time, when the Governor has issued similar unwanted orders on the PRC rules and J&K Bank, I warn Governor’s administration of a 2008-like public uprising if it does not withdraw both the orders immediately and forthwith.” By the J&K Bank orders, Mufti was referring to the decision to turn the bank into a public sector undertaking.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah wrote to Malik, “We are obligated to write to you at a time when you are mulling changes to the permanent resident certificate rules. Our party, the NC, is of the opinion that this is an attempt to distort the demography of the state and finds it detrimental to J&K’s special status.”
The letter added, “The State Administrative Council (SAC) is unilaterally bringing changes in the working of institutions and procedures, a practice that is against the principles and spirit of democracy and participative governance.”
The National Conference leader posted his letter on Twitter after his fax to the governor’s office was not received. “I’m trying to fax a letter to @jandkgovernor but the fax machine still isn’t working. The operator who answered the phone says the fax operator is on holiday as it’s a Sunday. Will attempt again tomorrow in the mean time am forced to put the letter out through social media,” he tweeted.
The Sajad Lone-led Peoples Conference — a BJP ally in the state — also asked the J&K Governor to not “invent new problems”.
“The governor administration needs to restrict itself to basic governance. No structural changes pertaining to PRC or J-K Bank are acceptable. Restrict your energies to what u r mandated to do — which incidentally u r not doing. Please don’t invent new problems,” Lone tweeted on Sunday.
Responding to Omar’s letter, Governor Malik said that “nothing will be done” to modify the procedures for issuing permanent resident certificates.
“I would like to mention that government is not making our even considering any change to the Act governing permanent resident certificates in the state. It is an integral part of the legal structure of Jammu & Kashmir and there is no attempt whatsoever to tamper it,” Malik wrote to Omar.
“I would like to highlight that no change in the procedural rules governing issuing of PR certificate will ever be done without larger consultations with all stakeholders. I will assure you that nothing will be done to modify the purified for issuing PR certificates,” the letter added.