India issues new domicile law for held Kashmir

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The constitutional provision forbids Indians from outside the region from buying land or permanently settling in the Muslim-majority territory. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

KARACHI: A person who has resided in Jammu and Kashmir for 15 years will now be able to call the occupied territory his or her place of domicile, the Indian government stated in a gazette notification on Wednesday.

The government issued new domicile rules about eight months after the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile semi-autonomous state into two union territories, both Al-Jazeera and Gulf News reported.

The J&K Civil Services (Decentralisation and Recruitment) Act defines a domiciled person as the one who has resided for a period of 15 years in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir or has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in class 10 or 12 examination in an educational institution located in the territory.

Prior to this, 35A of the Constitution of J&K empowered it to define a resident. A person will also be deemed domiciled if he/she is registered as migrant by the relief and rehabilitation commissioner in the union territory.

The definition under Section 3A also includes children of those Central government officials, all India services officers, officials of PSUs and autonomous body of Central government, public sector banks, officials of statutory bodies, officials of central universities and recognised research institutes of Central government “who have served in Jammu and Kashmir for a total period of ten years or children of parents who fulfil any of the conditions in sections.”

The new rules have come under severe criticism in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, in an incident highlighting the plight of people born and raised in the occupied territory, a villager faked his death and travelled more than a hundred miles in an ambulance with four others in a desperate bid to circumvent India’s virus lockdown, AFP news agency said.

Hakim Din was being treated for a minor head injury at a hospital in occupied Jammu when an ambulance driver suggested the 70-year-old fake his death to get past checkpoints, police said.

Din and three other men wanted to return to Poonch, a far-flung region in occupied Kashmir close to the de facto border with Pakistan.

The disputed region’s Superintendent of Police, Ramesh Angral, said the four men and the driver travelled more than 160 kilometres in the ambulance, passing many checkpoints using a fake death certificate from the hospital.

“The ambulance was stopped at the last checkpoint before they could reach home,” Angral said. “A policeman there immediately figured out that the man lying covered inside the ambulance could not be dead.”

The men were arrested and quarantined separately, Angral said, adding that they faced charges of “cheating and defying the government’s prohibitory orders”.

There are no known coronavirus cases in the Poonch region.

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