On March 31, amidst a nationwide lockdown, Ministry of Home Affairs introduced a new domicile law for Jammu and Kashmir, through the J&K Reorganization (Adaptation of state laws) order 2020. This followed the abrogation of 35A and Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which gave special status to the state of J&K.
The new domicile law would allow any Indian who has been residing in Jammu and Kashmir for the last 15 years eligible for the domicile, it would also give the status of domicile to the people who have passed 10th class or 12th class examinations from the state or who have studied for seven on more years in the state. Apart from this, wards of Central government officials, Public sector banks, PSUs, parents of whom have served in J&K for a period of 10 years shall also be considered a domicile of J&K. The changes were mentioned in Section 2 and Section 3A of the order respectively. The new domicile law also made people from outside of Jammu and Kashmir eligible for gazetted and non-gazetted jobs while 4th Class jobs (level-04 pay scale) were reserved for the residents of J&K. This was stated under Section 5A of the Order.
Furthermore, out of 138 State laws of J&K 25 were repealed on a whole which included J&K Civic Laws Act, J&K Civil Services Act, J&K State Aid to Industries Act, J&K State Forest Corporation Act among many others, 109 laws of the erstwhile state were amended.
Soon after the law was introduced, it was criticized by all the mainstream political parties including INC, National Conference, and the PDP. Political parties called this law ‘humiliating’ and said that it was adding to the miseries of the people of the region.
Omer Abdullah, president of the National Conference questioned the timing of this law and said while the country was fighting a pandemic (COVID-19) people at the centre are busy in making new laws from J&K.
PDP said this law was an attempt to ‘add salt of the wounds of people’.
Newly formed Apni Party J&K too was critical of this law; party’s president Altaf Bukhari called this law ‘cosmetic’. Indian National Congress called it a ‘cruel joke’.
The domicile law has been a matter of concern for BJP’s Jammu branch, in a first, they stood against any decision of the centre. Their supporters called it a ‘matter of worry’ while a senior leader of the party said that they were facing a backlash from their supporters and this will affect the party during elections.
People in Jammu and Kashmir, especially in Kashmir immediately started to draw a comparison to Palestine and a possible demographic change in the region. Muqeet, a Twitter user wrote “We all know that India follows Israel’s policies. A small reminder for you in this regard. 50 years ago Zionist forces in their mission to create a Jewish state, expelled some 750,000 Palestinians from their homes”.