Sunil R P Sethi
In the wake of events leading to mass exodus of citizens of Jammu and Kashmir from an area which went under illegal occupation of Pakistan, a large number of displaced persons belonging to Hindu Community shifted to safer areas in Jammu and a substantial number also shifted to other parts of the country for an opportunity to survive in new India . All persons who migrated from territories, now known as POJK, were state subjects as defined by laws of state with right on land , education, jobs, scholarship etc .
The circumstances which led to displacement and ethnic genocide of the community mainly in District Mirpur and District Muzaffarabad are sought to be buried in the dust of deceit and misinformation. The persons responsible for killings and destruction brought to the citizens of the State by their active role or by their inaction and political blunders continued to enjoy power both in the Centre as well as the State and wrote destiny of the people of the state as per their own convenience and perceptions. The destruction brought to the State didn’t end immediately but left a long trail which is still haunting the displaced persons and their families .
As under new Constitution of the State all rights in the State got reserved for the state subjects ( Permanent Residents of the state ) which was a hereditary term so it was of paramount importance to set procedure for grant of state subjects. The State Subject (Procedure for Grant) Act came in force in 1963 whereas rules under the Act were framed in 1968 providing for proceedural formalities for vetting state subjects . A look at the rules gives absolutely a horrifying picture if grant of state subject is based on production of documents of ownership of land or existing of name in electoral rolls in 1957 or registration under Chowkidar Act 1956 or birth record under Municipal Act 1958.
Now, how does this treat the displaced persons who settled in Delhi or Punjab or other areas of country or may be abroad. Unfair to say the least. These displaced persons who settled outside state will have no proof as required under procedure rules of 1968 though the persons are state subject as defined by Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. Will they get state subject or their children will get ? A Big No. And this, despite having constitutional guarantee.
Framing of 1968 rules providing procedure for grant of state subject was based on pure fanatical considerations and religious bias . And this was done when Congress was ruling the State . Hindu displaced persons and their families in thousands were denied their constitutional right to claim benefit of state subject only because they choose to settle in other parts of country .Constitution of J&K does not take away State Subject if person settles outside J&K.
What couldn’t be taken away constitutionally has been taken away by cleverly framing rules to perpetuate injustice . All state subject displaced persons who migrated outside Jammu and Kashmir were registered with respective authorities of the state they settled in and that should be taken as the proof for grant of state subject . Doesn’t it sound logical, instead of having twisted rules to do injustice and deny rights . For more than seven decades these people are fighting for justice . All rights which should have been given to them and their families have been denied because of complacacies in the rules. Rules are meant to ensure justice not injustice. But then, who listens ?
Fortunately, the Governor administration decided to simplify rules generating hope in the these thousands of people that finally justice will come their way but even this right move is being targeted for political gains and policy of cornering minorities to appease majority. Recently, former Chief Minister of the State Omar Abdullah smelled rat in the action by calling that it will change the state subject laws . Given that he has little knowledge about laws and how they operate but still he could have understood that simplifying procedure will not amount to creating new rights. Procedural simplification will only give right to people who deserve it under constitutional scheme .
But here politics of hatred and fanaticism seem to be playing a larger role. For a former Chief Minister the citizens get divided in two categories purely on religious lines . He knowingly plays the game of Hindu bashing by raising objections to simplifying procedure to grant state subjects . Nobody justifies grant of state subjects to non deserving and non entitled persons . They should all be thrown out but for sake of Justice. Hope Governor’s administration simplifies the procedure to ensure grant of state subjects to persons whom Constitution gives guarantee. And hope people like former Chief Minister also start seeing logic and reason before raising objections.
(The author is senior advocate)
Sunil R P Sethi