Kashmir citizenship certificates in schools: govt’s new way to settle Pakistan refugees?

A lawmaker from Kashmir Thursday termed it as a sinister move on part of BJP-PDP government to issue Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) at the school level in the state.

Kashmir citizenship certificates in schools - govt's new way to settle Pakistan refugees“There is something fishy and I personally believe the move is aimed at to make non-state subjects residing illegally in Jammu as the subject of Jammu and Kashmir,” Hakim Muhammad Yasin said, adding that the process of issuing PRC’s has already begun in Jammu.

Pertinently, a few days back, BJP leader and Minister of State for Revenue Sunil Kumar Sharma during his visit to Katra had said that the government has taken up a project to issue Permanent Resident Certificate and Caste Certificates at the school level. The Minister had added that the government have started the project in Kishtwar district on a trial basis in 17 schools and have issued over 500 certificates so far. The government’s overt moves to settle the West Pakistan Refugees in the state have met serious opposition from parties across the state.

Yasin said that BJP in its election manifesto had promised to border residents and West Pakistan Hindu refugees that it will grant them state subject rights, the move that was resented by the people of Kashmir. “When BJP failed in its designs, it has come up with a new plan and have now started issuing PRC’s at school level especially in Jammu division. This is an attempt to change the demography of the state. We should keep this fact in mind that there are numerous illegal colonies in Jammu where non-state subjects reside. Besides, there are thousands of non-subjects who work as traders, laborers, and businessmen in Jammu and there is quite possibility that the children of these people will get PRC’s and after a decade or a two, the State will witness a major shift in demographic character,” Yasin said during an interaction.

“Mark my words and I am telling you with authority that the process of issuing PRC’s at school level in Jammu will be misused in a great way. West Pakistan Refugees children will be made state-subjects. It will not happen suddenly but it is a gradual process and will take time,” Yasin cautioned.

He said that the BJP minsiter had said that by issuing PRC’s at school level would reduce the time and would also reduce the workload of officials. “What do you mean by reduced time and workload. It is a sensitive matter and should take time. We used to involve Sarpanchs, Headmen and other officials for the purpose and now the government has rescind all such process and has even not bothered to inform the public about the criteria and yardstick that it is adopting for issuing Permanent State Subject Certificates,” he said, adding that it is a serious and grave issue and should not be taken easy.

Yasin said the process started by the government should be stopped immediately and stringent action should be taken under relevant provisions of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) against the persons and officials found guilty of obtaining or issuing the state subject certificate through fraudulent means.

Pertinently, the government went ahead with the process though the General Administration Department (GAD) had conveyed its disagreement to the amendments (simplifying the procedure governing grant of PRC’s mooted by the Revenue Department in the JK Grant of Permanent Resident Certificate Act–1963.

PRC traces its birth to Dogra rule in the erstwhile princely state of J&K. Its genesis lies in the notification dated 20th April 1927, No. 1-L/84 which was issued by Maharaja Hari Singh to prevent the well-off Punjabis from purchasing land in JK and settling here.

In 2002, a full bench of the High Court said that daughter of a permanent resident of J&K won’t lose permanent resident status on marrying a non-state subject.

Later, the state government went for appeal in the Supreme Court against the judgment. However, the PDP government in 2004 withdrew the appeal and moved a Bill in the Legislative Assembly seeking disqualification of a woman marrying a non-state subject.

Although the Bill was passed by the Legislative Assembly, it hit a roadblock in Legislative Council with the then chairman Abdul Rashid Dar adjourning the House sine die without putting the Bill to vote.