SRINAGAR: A 1994 batch IAS officer from Bihar posted in J&K for 26 years has become the first non-Kashmiri civil servant to get a domicile certificate under the new law that offers permanent residency in the
to any Indian or registered
refugee who meets the eligibility criteria.
Navin Kumar Choudhary, currently the principal secretary of agriculture, has spent the past two-and-a-half decades living in government-provided accommodation but is now eligible to buy property anywhere in the Valley and enjoy all other rights that used to be reserved for indigenous Kashmiris. While applying for a domicile certificate, he had mentioned a government quarter at Gandhi Nagar in Jammu as his present address.
The domicile certificate issued by Rohit Sharma, tehsildar of Jammu’s Bahu area, states: "This is to certify that Shri Navin K. Choudhary, son of Shri Deokant Choudhary, resident of at present Gandhi Nagar, Jammu, is a domicile of UT of J&K. The applicant is eligible in terms of rule 5 of the
Jammu and Kashmir
Grant Domicile Certificate (Production) Rules 2020."
Choudhary's previous assignments in J&K include heading the finance and tourism departments and serving as principal secretary to former CM
The new domicile law grants settlement rights to anyone who has resided in J&K for a minimum of 15 years or has studied in an institution in the Valley for at least seven years and appeared for the Class 10 or plus-two board examinations.
The UT administration has so far received 33,157 applications for domicile ceriticates, of which around 25,000 have been approved. The 10 districts of Jammu division account for around 32,000 of these applications. The applicants include hundreds of registered West Pakistan refugees and Valmiki Samaj members, besides descendants of Gurkhas brought to J&K by Hari Singh, the last king of the erstwhile princely state.
In the Kashmir division, only 720 applications had been filed as on Friday. Nobody in Srinagar district, which has 65 applicants, has yet received a domicile certificate.
The new rules state that a tehsildar who fails to issue a domicile certificate to any bona fide applicant within the stipulated period will be liable for punishment, including forfeiting salary up to Rs 50,000.
Farooq Abdullah's National Conference on Friday iterated its opposition to the domicile rules notified on May 18. NC spokesperson Aga Syed Ruhulla Mehdi said his party unequivocally rejects the "unconstitutional and anti-people process" of granting domicile certificates to "outsiders".
"All the misgivings raised after the domicile laws were changed in J&K are coming to the fore with the J&K government’s issuance of domicile certificates to non residents of J&K. The first and foremost casualty of this process will be our jobs, and the land holdings which were earlier reserved for the permanent residents of J&K, irrespective of their religion or region," Ruhullah said.
The new rule only reserves non-gazetted Class IV jobs for natives of J&K.
Terrorist outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba-backed TRF have warned "Indians" of reprisal if they try to settle in J&K.