They are always on the prowl. Stalking their prey. Had been since 1947. Rather since the days when partition of Indian sub-continent was gaining currency and was being taken as a fait-accompli. Not withstanding the MK Gandhi’s resolve and pledge that ‘it is possible to have the sacred cow split into two halves but not Bharat mata’. However, the die was cast and India got divided on pure religious lines. Two nation theory, being the propelling force of this divide. The Hindu majority areas were to become the part of India and Muslim majority areas were free to script their destiny with new emerging state of Pakistan. Both British imperialism and Congress leadership – from Gandhi to Nehru –
collaborated that Kashmir should remain in the Indian bind. Simultaneously the fanatic groups of RSS and Praja Parishad, in full support and abetment of the ruling dynasty, carried out the genocide of Muslims in Jammu. Even Maharajas of Kapur Thalla and Patiala accompliced in the gruesome murder of Muslims. That resulted in converting Muslim Majority Jammu into Hindu majority region. However, because of varied factors, overall population of the state though always under the threat of losing its numerical strength, did succeed in maintaining its Muslim majority character till now. But clouds of uncertainty are always looming large and given the sinister design behind, Kashmiris are always sniffing Cobras out of the looped ropes of normalcy. Add to it the influx of thousands of “Sharnartheese” or refugees from the erstwhile West Pakistan into the Jammu region. All non-Muslims and not entitled to State Subjects status were allowed to stay here, though for temporarily and on human grounds, became the permanent settlers. From two lakhs there population is said to have grown to near about twelve to fifteen lakhs now.
It is in this perspective we have to look to Dogra certificate and the lurking fears that it has generated in the minds of people and the political, social and economical implications it is going to have.
The National Conference – Congress coalition government headed by young Omar Abdullah some three or four weeks before issued, all of a sudden, a separate certificate for the residents of Jammu province. The order passed by Revenue Ministry headed by Raman Balla said that all those people living in Jammu prior to 1994 (cut-off date) are entitled to this certificate named ‘Dogra Certificate’. Announcing issuance of the order Raman Balla said concerned Tehsildars shall be competent to issue such certificates and asked people of Jammu to obtain such certificates. All residents of Jammu division irrespective of ethnicity, cultural background, mother tongue, caste and religion shall be entitled to this certificate that would (and here lies the hideous intent) classify them as Dogras. In full knowledge of the fact that Sharnartheese has strayed into state after 1947, the order, as if to facilitate their trespassing into state subject domain waives the cut-off date condition for them.
As the move drew flake, the state government began to seek refuge under the vague and implausible justifications. The Revenue Minister Raman Balla and Minister for Law, Ali Muhammad Sagar claimed that the issuance of the certificate was aimed at helping the aspirants from Jammu province to get recruited in the Army’s Dogra Regiment. But as they say lie has no legs to stand upon, this canard was divested of its veracity by none other than the institution of Army itself. It said there is no provision in their recruitment rules which says preference in Dogra Regiment shall be given to candidates possessing the Dogra Certificate.
There are number of regiments in Indian army named after their ethnic groups but recruitment provided is not exclusively for the particular ethnicity. It is no where provided that in Gorkha, Sikh, Gudwal regiment, for example, only people of these ethnicity or faith will be recruited. The Indian army ‘prides’ of its secular credential and the ministers’ statement pecks holes in that character.
On the face of it the order smells of some bigger political move aimed to kill many birds with one stone. It is politically motivated move aimed to further advance the nefarious designs of certain forces. It is political force which has the potential of drastically affecting the outcome of the final disposition of the state as and when that moment comes. One has to understand that it is not difficult for a person to speak Dogri language or any other language if he/she has settled at a place since the last more than six decades. There are number of outside-state people who are living in Jammu province since decades. Providing them with Dogra certificate is to arm them with the legal instrument that in the very near future will be used to have a claim on the state-subject certificate. If on that document they earn an appointment in the Dogra Regiment, why should they be barred from state recruitment – flipping Dogra certificate – they would ask. That time this very certificate would be used as a case point. And plead their case on that basis in the court of law.
It is only the people of Pakistan administered Kashmir who, in the eyes of law, are the permanent residents of the state. And everybody knows, the New Delhi and their political lackeys in Kashmir have all along followed the policy of ‘touch-me-not-ism’ towards them. Remember the fate of Settlement Bill Kashmir assembly passed in eighties during the time legendary Sheikh Abdullah was heading the government. Issuing the Dogra certificate to non-permanent residents of the state amounts to giving them permanent certificate which is both illegal and unethical.
Some other questions need explanation from powers that be. What was the need for the state government issuing such an order that is destined to convert the entire Jammu region into one monolithic ethnic organic whole in which all other ethnicities like Gujars, Paharis, Bakarwals, Poonchies, Kishtwaries, Kashmiris get assimilated. Doesn’t it smack of pre-mediated conspiracy of carving, what they say, Dogra Desh, out from state of J&K, which still has disputed status in light of Security Council resolutions.
With a well defined legal document like State Subject in place since 1929 the state has, to a large extent maintained its individuality. Not only that. With State Subject enactment coming in force all permanent residents of state acquired equal status, irrespective of which ethnic, regional, cultural, linguistic or cultural group the person belongs. One wonders in presence of such a protective shield why the coalition dispensation decided to issue an order which is not progressive but divisive and violative of the provisions of the constitution.
Obviously in the controversial certificate there is more than meets the eye. And politically matured people of the state know the inherent dangers. The damage controlling exercise of making amendments in the order is least they demand for. Rescind it and do it now. Before lava of anger bursts up.
Post-Script:- Just when I concluded the piece the state government announced revocation of the controversial order pertaining to issuing of Dogra Certificate. The development comes amid Hurayat Conference chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani threatening the state government revoke the order by April 30 or face protests – some thing which is understood to have unnerved the coalition government still haunted by 2010 unrest in Kashmir. Obviously Omar-led government succumbed before Geelani’s pressure. That indicates how Geelani’s presence and his political stature matters in Kashmir.