Communities push for domicile laws

Fenced in:Restrictions continued in Srinagar for the 15th day on Monday.NISSAR AHMAD  

With the revoking of the special status of Kashmir, Pandits, Dogras and Buddhists have made separate demands for domicile laws in the proposed Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The reasons they cite include the need to maintain the current population status, ensuring jobs for local people and the rights over land use.

BJP State spokesman Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who is a Kashmiri Pandit who left the Valley in the 1990s, told The Hindu that the domicile laws were “the need of the hour”.

“The first preference for jobs should be given to locals. The government should fix quotas for locals. These locals should also be allowed to compete for the rest of job quota in open merit too. This is in vogue in many States,” he said.

An obstacle

Mr. Chrungoo opposed the Union Territory status. “Who would like a UT status for all time? Unfortunately, the local leadership was becoming an obstacle to eliminating terrorism and containing law and order situation. The next five years are crucial now to establish peace. It remains a reality that a Kashmiri cannot live without the aspects of culture and civilisation. I don’t foresee a change in demography,” he said.

He called for a road map for the return of the Pandits to the Valley. “This time, Pandits will come on a permanent basis. We would not like transit camps here. It should not be that people will leave in winters and return in summers. For that, Pandits should be given freedom of expression within the Valley and a sense of security by locals. Their political empowerment and social cohesion should follow it. They should not beg for any security,” Mr. Chrungoo said.

Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, Ladakh MP, has filed a memorandum with Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda for tribal status to ensure that the land rights stayed with the local community.

Biggest problem

“The biggest problem of the tribal population is to protect its identity, culture, land and economy,” Mr. Namgyal said in the memorandum, seeking tribal status under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution on the lines of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. He also appealed to Union Home Minister Amit Shah “to protect the demography of Ladakh”, which has 55% Muslims and 45% Buddhists.

Kargil-based leader Haji Inayat met Mr. Munda for guarantees on land rights and jobs.


Watch | All about Ladakh