Gorkhas feel domicile certificate has restored their dignity and honour

Jammu: For the last several decades, members of Gorkha community, Valmiki Samaj and West Pakistan refugees had been struggling to get the domicile certificate so that they too can pursue their dreams.

Their long wait has finally come to an end, with the issuance of domicile certificate by Jammu and Kashmir government.

"This is not mere piece of paper, but document that ensures restoration of our honour and dignity," claimed Anita, one of the members of  Gurkha community, who today got domicile certificate.

For members of the Gorkha community, domicile certificate is one of the most prized possession they have with them. "Yeh certificate humey jaan se bhi zyada pyara hai. (This certificate is more valuable than our lives)," exclaimed Ravi Upadhyay, a young college student from  Gurkha community.

Many of them believe that this certificate will bring an end to an era of discrimination, that they had been subjected to all these years. It was seven months after the abrogation of Article 3
Gorkhas feel domicile certificate has restored their dignity and honour
70, J&K administration last week kick-started a special exercise to distribute domicile certificates among west Pakistan refugees, Valmiki Samaj members, and Gorkhas, who were denied the same due to J&K’s special status till last year.

During last few days more than 25,000 domicile certificates have been distributed under a new law that came into being after the abrogation of article 370.  In the first phase, recipients of the domicile certificates mostly included those sections of society who for the last seven decades had been deprived of their citizenship rights.

Under the domicile rules, all those persons and their children who have resided for 15 years in Jammu and Kashmir, or have studied for seven years and appeared in Class X or Class XII examination in an educational institution in the UT, are eligible for grant of domicile.

J&K’s Article 370 and Article 35A barred non-locals and outsiders from seeking residency here. Domicile certificates are mandatory for buying land, applying for jobs, and in educational institutes in J&K.

Kashmir centric parties like the National Conference, the People’s Democratic Party, the People’s Conference, and the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement have objected to the government’s move in this matter. "Issuance of domicile is unconstitutional," described former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.  

These regional parties are trying to inject communal colour to the whole exercise. In their view, this is an attempt by Modi led govt to change the demography of Kashmir Valley.


Big moment for Valmiki Community

This is a big day for the marginalised Valmiki community in Jammu.  And they finally have something to rejoice about as the J&K government issued domicile certificate to many members of their community.

Jammu and Kashmir government's decision to grant domicile certificate to Valmiki Samaj (community of safai karamcharis) has generated a new ray of hope for the community.

''Now we too can lead a dignified life. All these years we had been treated like slaves. We were denied basic constitutional and fundamental rights,'' said Eklavya, a member of the Valmiki community. 

Eklavya's angry reaction is much obvious. Even after completing his PhD, a sweeper was the only job he was entitled to do. But now with a domicile certificate in hand, he like any other citizen of Jammu and Kashmir, too can apply for a government job.

It was in 1957 that members of Valmiki community came to Jammu from Punjab's Amritsar and Gurdaspur area following an invitation from the then state govt headed by Prime Minister Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad.

The decision to call safai karamcharis from Punjab was taken following the strike by local sweeper's union that led to a sanitation crisis in Jammu city. The then ruling dispensation promised them rehabilitation in the state, saying that the 'permanent resident' clause would be relaxed for them. But those promises were never fulfilled making this community suffer for decades together.

All these years members of this community struggled to get jobs, but due to unavailability of Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) they were denied the same. At every step, they had to face discrimination. Unfazed by the shabby treatment they been receiving at the hands of respective governments in Jammu and Kashmir, the Valmiki Samaj continued with their struggle.

''Now we see a bright future ahead of us. Now we will be able to fulfil our dreams which were not possible due to Article 370", expresses Thomas, euphoric graduate student from the Valmiki community in Jammu.


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For the last several decades, members of Gorkha community, Valmiki Samaj and West Pakistan refugees had been struggling to get the domicile certificat

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