April 3, 2020
In another aggressive move, eight months after abrogation of Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status, and in the chaos and distraction of the COVID-19 pandemic, India has issued a new domicile law paving the path to illegal and unilateral changes to an internationally disputed territory. Domicile is the status of being a lawful permanent resident in a particular jurisdiction. The same occupation forces that were oppressing Kashmiris are now rewarded with land and residency.
Justice For All strongly opposes and condemns this move to change the demographics of Kashmir.
What exactly does Kashmir’s new set of domicile laws mean for those who are not permanent residents of the disputed territory, and what does it mean for those native Kashmiri people who are?
As the restrictions of the 13 million residents of Jammu and Kashmir has tightened, along with the rest of the world, to limit the spread of the coronavirus, India has instead focused on creating further disruption in the sensitive region, threatening the ecology and fragile economy. The new domicile laws open the doors for the occupation forces who have served long enough in Kashmir and their children to settle and acquire land and properties leading to illegal settlements within Kashmir.
Khurram Parvez, a human rights defender based in the region, said: “By virtue of this order, outsiders are also going to be the claimants of jobs in Jammu and Kashmir, which already has a huge unemployment problem. This is an act against the interests of unemployed youth.”
The new domicile law in Kashmir, when coupled with the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution which included limiting land ownership in Kashmir to its permanent residents, creates a clear, obvious, and dangerous agenda by the extreme nationalist ruling party to change the status quo in the region. Kashmiris, already facing unbridled persecution, imprisonment and injustice, must now fight even harder for their own land.
The pathway to permanent residency in Kashmir has opened up to any of the following individuals:
- Those who have resided for 15 years in Indian occupied Kashmir
- Those who have studied for 7 years and appeared in Class 10/12 examinations in educational institutions within Kashmir
- Those who are children of central government officials serving in Indian occupied Kashmir for 10 years.
- All new domiciles will entitle Indians to ALL jobs in Kashmir.
Retired Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, who has challenged the abrogation of Article 370 in the Supreme Court, said it is “a permanent resident by stealth”. “It should worry the Kashmiris.”
Imitating its close ally Israel, it has clearly begun its settler-colonial project in Jammu and Kashmir. One can only look at Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank, and imagine what the future holds for the people of Kashmir. With the recent citizenship laws and national registry lists, India is clearly telling the world where it stands as a “democratic secular nation” in regard to its Muslim-minority population.
What India is doing, in the midst of an almost month long coronavirus lockdown in Kashmir, is outrageous and shows little to no concern for its own 1 billion plus residents. During a global pandemic, when all of India’s resources, energy and attention should be placed on protecting its citizens and providing access to critical care, India has again committed another affront to democracy and human rights in Kashmir.
Despite condemnation for its human rights abuses, detainment of minors and inhumane lockdown in Kashmir, India continues to act boldly against the Muslim minority due to the collective global silence of world.