Domicile certificates to Gorkha soldiers in J&K finally end decades of discrimination

Domicile certificates to Gorkha soldiers in J&K finally end decades of discrimination
Jammu: Winds of change have finally started blowing in Jammu and Kashmir. Seven decades of long wait has finally come to an end. No more Gorkha soldiers in the strife-torn region will be treated as second class citizens.

Issuance of domicile certificate - to many of them in the twilight of their life - has generated a new ray of hope.  "Now we too can buy a property. Our kids too can apply for government jobs,” said Prem Bahadur, a 68-year-old ex-serviceman from Gorkha Regiment.

Most of these retired soldiers, while talking to Times Now, recalled difficulties they had to face all these years because of denial of the permanent resident certificate (PRC) to them. In absence of this certificate, these soldiers - who defended dangerous frontiers of the country for decades together - were denied basic fundamental rights. 

"All these years we were taught in school books that soldier is the best citizen of the country. But here in J&K, we were not even considered citizen,” rued Havildar Krishan Singh (retd) of JAK Rifles.

Holding domicile certificate in his hand, Havildar Krishan Singh (retd), is a happy man today. He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for restoring their honour and dignity by abrogating Article 370. "Like any other citizen of J&K, we too can walk around with our head held high. No more our family members will be humiliated. No more we will be denied basic rights," he added.

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.

Many Gorkha ex-servicemen see this domicile certificate as a recognition of a lifetime spent protecting the country. Gorkhas moved to J&K from Nepal in the mid-19th century upon invitation of Dogra regime to fight alongside them.  Presently one lakh Gorkhas live here. They can vote in Assembly and local polls, but can’t own land outside plots granted by the government way back in ’60s. 

“Three generations of my family served motherland India. All of them were born and brought up in Kashmir. It used to hurt us when domicile was denied to us on the pretext that we are Nepalis,” said Subedar SB Rana (retd) of Artillery Unit. “Finally our service to the nation and motherland India has been recognised. Now I can die in peace,” Rana added.

During the last two weeks, more than 25,000 domicile certificates have been issued. Of which 6,600 have been given to the Gorkha community, many of them are former Gorkha soldiers and officers.  Issuance of this document to former soldiers in fag end of their life has infused new energy. They are now hopeful of a better future for their future generations.

"Even after serving motherland India for several decades, we had to face humiliation at all levels. This piece of paper has restored our dignity. In a real sense most of us got independence today," said Havildar Dharam Bahadur Thapa (retd).

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 10 or Class 12 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 PM Modi-led government to change the demography of Kashmir Valley. "Please stop playing politics. Jammu and Kashmir is not the personal property of these Kashmiri netas. It equally belongs to us. We have given our blood for peace and prosperity of this region,” said another ex-serviceman.

https://www.timesnownews.com
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Winds of change have finally started blowing in Jammu and Kashmir. Seven decades of long wait has finally come to an end. No more Gorkha soldiers in t

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