The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Saturday issued domicile certificates to more than 50 West Pakistani refugees as well as members of the Balmiki and Gorkha communities who have long been living in the region but were not eligible for full citizenship rights under the erstwhile state’s laws.
The certificates were distributed by Jammu Divisional Commissioner Sanjeev Verma at a special camp in Jammu. The beneficiaries hailed from different areas of Jammu district, including R S Pura, Bishnah, Bahu and Jammu South, an official statement here said.
The families of the refugees had come from areas of West Pakistan and settled in parts of Jammu after the 1947 partition. The members of Balmiki community, meanwhile, were invited to the state from Punjab in 1957 to work as cleaning staff. They were promised rehabilitation in Jammu and Kashmir in relaxation of rules concerning permanent residents.
Until August 2019, when the Centre scrapped Article 370, these communities were part of electoral rolls of parliamentary elections, but they were not allowed to vote.
Now, in the wake of new rules notified last month, they have been given full citizenship rights.
Saturday’s distribution of domicile certificates comes three days after Naveen Kumar Choudhary, a senior IAS officer hailing from Bihar, became the first civil servant from outside Union Territory to get the status of domicile of Jammu and Kashmir.
As per the new rules, people residing in the Union Territory 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 Jammu and Kashmir for 10 years.
Both the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party have reiterated their opposition to the new rules.
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