Jammu and Kashmir: BJP and JKAP tussle for credit over changes to new domicile rule

Without naming the J&K Apni Party, BJP said that it was “unfortunate to see some people claiming undue credit” for the developments.

A day after the Centre issued amendments to the domicile clause introduced in Jammu and Kashmir on March 31, the Altaf Bukhari-led J&K Apni Party and the BJP state unit tussled for credit over the move.

The BJP state unit credited its state leadership for its “hectic lobbying” to bring about changes to the domicile clause for the Union Territory. Without naming the J&K Apni Party, BJP said that it was “unfortunate to see some people claiming undue credit” for the developments.

JKAP said that party president Altaf Bukhari “lost no time and took an initiative to get the changes made.” Bukhari, on Friday met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval in New Delhi on Friday and told them that the “new order is not in the interest of J&K residents”.

After introducing a new domicile clause redefining residence and recruitment rules for Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, the Centre on Friday amended its order to reserve all jobs in the Union Territory for only its domiciles. The order, issued earlier provided limited protections to domiciles for level 4 jobs while keeping all other positions open.

BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur said, “that it was because of the hectic lobbying and efforts of J&K-based BJP leaders from top to bottom that the Centre was persuaded to change/amend the domicile law in which all jobs have been kept reserved for the J&K youth in government sector. “Many politicians tried to hijack the domicile issue to score political points, but the Centre took the requests and pleas made by BJP leaders from J&K very seriously and announced the pro-youth amendments,” the party said in a statement.

Speaking to The Indian Express, JKAP’s Rafi Ahmad Mir said, “It is a very delicate issue and it pertains to one and all in J&K. It looks shallow to claim credit but nevertheless we took initiative, we lost no time. We forgot about Covid-19 and our party president met people at the Centre. How these things happened we will discuss when elections are conducted.” He said that the party’s core agenda is to restore statehood and bring domicile laws for J&K.

JKAP leader Ashraf Mir had told The Indian Express on Friday, just as the amendments were announced, “nothing comes on a platter. You have to assert, then only will you be successful. We will do everything for the good of the people.”

Meanwhile, other political parties in the region have termed the changes “cosmetic” and the legislation itself “dangerous.” National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah said on twitter, “It’s high time the people of J&K get to decide the laws that will govern them rather than being subjected to the whims & fancies of the Centre where orders are issued in the morning & changes to the same order are issued in the evening. Restore statehood, conduct elections.”

In a statement, the NC said that the Centre’s move was “bereft of any guarantee against demographic changes” in J&K and added that Government of India’s silence over land rights is “suspicious”.

Calling the domicile law “dangerous” even in its amended form, the PDP lashed out at the centre for its repeated “misadventures in J&K.”

Sajad Lone’s People’s Conference, urged the Centre to respect the wishes of the people of J&K and said , “The reality of the domicile as it stares in our faces is that it was changed unrecognisably and remains unrecognisable. The sensitive and cherished aspect of sub identity remains unguarded and virtually in a state of ‘free for all’.”

The Congress however, questioned the ruling BJP on its promise to provide jobs to the people of J&K stating that the amendments to the domicile clause “are cosmetic and another bluff with the youth of J&K, as all those who have been declared domicile, are now eligible from gazetted posts to class IV posts in J&K,” Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir said.

He added that the the youth of J&K will question “the bluff of BJP and those who are trying to mislead the youth and claims credit for the change.”

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