People from the Valmiki community living in the highly devastating conditions in Valmiki colony, J&K
While the real issues of J&K are being dealt with, the dirty financial nexus of separatists is being exposed and the true narratives of the people are coming forward. As the last resort, the dynastic monopolists of the state discourse adopted the strategy of rumour mongering
Deepak Zazia from Srinagar
Although all influential Kashmir centric parties-both mainstream and separatists have ganged up to protect the discriminatory and anti-national Article 35A of the Constitution, Ekalavya, 32, a Dalit boy of Valmiki Colony in Jammu is unfazed by the malicious campaign launched by these political groups dominated by the Sunni Muslims-ruled State of J&K since 1947.
Ekalavya, who is a victim of Article 370 and 35A, has challenged the constitutional validity of these discriminatory laws in the highest court of the country to get their community liberated from the worst ever human slavery
“Those who support Article 35A are the upper caste ruling elites who want to continue this to exploit the marginalised and the poor”, Ekalavya observed but he is confident that the result-oriented leadership at the Centre will take decisive action this time.
“Unlike previous regimes, we have a strong government at the Centre and Union Home Minister Amit Shah is very much aware of the deceitful and blackmailing tactics of the ruling Sunni elite of Kashmir”, he said. Malicious campaign launched by Valley-centric parties have provided an opportunity to the victims of this Article in highlighting this “discriminatory” clause illegally sneaked into the Constitution, to deprive a weaker section of its constitutional rights. “This is what we want. The nation is not aware of this Article which is depriving us of our basic human rights”, argued Ekalavya.
“After threats were given by mainstream and separatist groups of Kashmir Valley, a debate would be generated and we will educate our people about this discriminatory Article”, he said. Ekalavya, along with hundreds of Valmiki families that are living in Jammu since 1957 are victims of Article 35A.
Medals of no Use: Despite having so many medals and merit certificates Radhika was denied a job in central force even after qualifying because she does not have a PRC
“We are being deprived of all constitutional and fundamental rights because this Article”, he pointed out, adding, “our third generation is living in virtual slavery because we have no other option but to do the job of sweepers in government sector”.
Fear-mongering by Mehbooba Mufti
On July 28, while addressing 20th foundation day function of her party, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti cautioned the Centre against “fiddling with” Article 35A, comparing it to “dynamite”. “Fiddling with 35A is like touching dynamite. If any hand is raised to fiddle with 35A, not only that hand but the entire body will burn to ashes,” she said.
- In similar language Mehbooba on April 5 this year, said the day NDA-government revokes Article 35-A, India will be an occupational force in Jammu and Kashmir.
- PDP chief asked the Centre the day you will revoke article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir “you will become an occupational force in Jammu and Kashmir”. “You will lose all your rights in Jammu and Kashmir,” she warned.
- On July 29, 2018, Mehbooba had warned against any attempt to change the special status granted to the State. “Let me tell you that my party and other parties carry the national flag there (in Jammu and Kashmir) despite all risks. I have no doubt in saying that there will be no one to hold it (if the special status law is tinkered with).”
- On February 25, 2018, Mehbooba warned the Central government not to fiddle with the Article 35A as she said doing so would mean that the government would “play with fire”. She threatened that India would see the worst times since 1947 if at all the Article 35A is tampered with. Mufti warned that if the Article is attacked, then “I don’t know which flag people of J&K will be forced to pick up instead of the tricolour.”
- Mehbooba on the floor of the Legislative Assembly dubbed those who are demanding the abrogation of Article 35-A as anti-national. She said that those who have adopted legal means to challenge Article 35-A are ‘anti-nationals’.
Like Ekalavya, Radhika Gill, 19, a Valmiki girl, is also confident that this time Centre will not succumb to the politics of blackmailing of the political oppressor of Kashmir Valley who have been brazenly oppressing Dalits, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and women in the name of so-called Special Status of J&K.Radhika, one of the top athletes of J&K State, had shown her excellence in the 14th state athlete meet held recently but when it comes to the question of employment, she is only eligible for the job of sweeper due to discriminatory provisions of the Article 35A.
Living with her parents in a shabby one-room house at Valmiki Colony in Jammu, Radhika displayed the medals and trophies she had won as athlete but all awards are of no use because she belongs to those voiceless and unheard Non Permanent Residents (NPRs) Valmikis, who have been facing worst kind of slavery in the modern democratic world since 1957.
The Agony of Valmiki Samaj
Members of Valmiki Samaj are living in Jammu since 1957, but they are deprived of all constitutional and human rights due to the so-called separate Constitution of the State. As Valmikis are denied Permanent Resident Certificates (PRCs) like other residents of J&K, their highly qualified youth are debarred from claiming any government job in the State. They are entitled only for the job of sweepers in J&K.
Mehbooba’s blackmail tactics is not going to yield any result: Ravinder Raina
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti’s warning against ‘touching’ Article 35-A has evoked strong reacting from BJP and victims of this provision of the Indian Constitution.
“Gone are the days when dispensations at the Centre used to succumb before the blackmail tactics of such politicians rejected by the people”, state president of BJP Ravinder Raina said, adding, “After performing badly in the recently held Lok Sabha elections Mehbooba Mufti has been indulged into fear-mongering to rake up sentiments of the people of Kashmir”. Raina’s said PDP has been exposed before the masses so to retrieve their lost ground PDP leaders were indulging in such exploitative politics to hoodwink gullible masses. “Parties like PDP cannot befool people of Kashmir any more”, he said, adding, “Kashmiris have realised that such parties have been befooling them since long”.
Radhika had achieved the first rank during the physical test for recruitment in a central force, but at the end of the day, she was debarred from participating in final selection as she does not possess PRC. Same is the story of Eklavya, who did his post graduation in Political Science but eligible only for the job of sweepers in Jammu. Except as sweepers they cannot apply for any other government job in J&K because these Dalits have been denied PRCs.
Radhika and Eklavya are not isolated cases. Talented and deserving Valimiki youths are barred from joining any professional courses like MBBS, Engineering, B.Tech, M.Tech etc. because they don’t have PRCs.
The agony of these helpless Valmikis started way back in 1957 when they were specially recruited from Punjab to employ them as “Safai Karamcharis”. Local safai karamcharis went on indefinite strike in the year 1957, the then Wazir-e-Azam (Prime Minister) of J&K, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad convened an emergency Cabinet meeting in which a decision was taken to bring Safai Karmacharis from other states to solve the crisis. Till 1965, Chief Minister of J&K was called Prime Minister.
"They talk of abrogating Article 370. If you do that, the accession will also not stand. I swear by Allah, I think this is the wish of Almighty, we will get freedom from them"— Farooq Abdullah, President, National Conference
Over 250 families of Valmikis were brought from Gurdaspur and Amritsar areas of Punjab with a promise to provide them with all constitutional rights like other citizens of J&K. Valmikis, who were brought from Punjab, were not permanent residents of J&K so they were promised at that time by none else than the then Prime Minister of the State, that rules would be relaxed to grant them PRCs but nothing has been done so far. It was only this assurance the Valmikis from Punjab were agreed to work in Jammu. Today about 250 families are spread in Gandhi Nagar, Dogra Hall, Resham Ghar, Bakshi Nagar, Nagrota, Udhampur and other localities. Garu Bhatti, president of Valmiki Samaj vows that fear-mongering by politicians like Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti is not going to be terrorised by them. “We are aware Kashmir-centric parties are very much aware that this illegal Article would be abolished in legal scrutiny, so they have launched such campaign to blackmail the Union Government”, Bhatti observed. Like Valmikis, refugees from West Pakistan (Pakistani Punjab) are also victims of this discriminatory Article.
Fear-mongering by Mehbooba and Farooq Abdullah has ignited debate, and this discussion would be taken at the national level. “Now people of the country would know how Article 35A has deprived a large section of the society of their constitutional rights”, said Labha Ram Gandhi leader of West Pakistani refugees.
Victims of the Partition holocaust West Pakistani refugees, majority of them are Dalits and OBCs, are living in J&K since 1947 but are being denied citizenship rights due to Article 35A. “Article 35A is not only unconstitutional but also inhuman which is the main hurdle in solving our human issue”, Gandhi argued.
West Pakistan refugees live a miserable life. They have been denied basic rights as promised by Sheikh Abdullah. Most of the 1.5 lakh Hindu and Sikh migrant families are either Dalits or Other Backward Classes (OBCs). They have voting rights only in the parliamentary polls. Since they don’t have land ownership rights, they work as farm labourers. They have not issued any caste certificates, so they can’t get any government benefits. Till 2012, they were recruited in the armed forces on the basis of domicile certificates, but the government has now stopped issuing such certificates. The only thing the state government has done for them is issue identity certificates, which means nothing except state keeping tabs on their numbers. In short, an indignified life.
Fearing exposure of their corrupt practices leaders indulged
in fear-mongering: Ram Madhav
Ram Madhav, BJP’s national general secretary and Party’s pointsman in J&K, has observed that it was all due to the launching of a campaign against corruption that some leaders of Valley have been indulging in fear-mongering to hoodwink the gullible masses.
“Like terrorism, corruption is also a big issue in J&K which is needed to be uprooted at any cost,” he said recently at Srinagar, adding “Corruption has been a major issue here which has been hampering the development. Thousands of crores have been coming from New Delhi for development, but that never reached the poor people at the grassroots”.
The BJP leader without naming the National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah, who was being questioned by Enforcement Directorate on the same day at Chandigarh, pointed out “One is being questioned in Chandigarh today. If some other is questioned in Srinagar tomorrow, what is the problem? No matter how big you are, the corrupt won’t be spared”, he said.
He also indirectly took on PDP president Mehbooba Mufti without naming her and said: “Gone are the days when politicians would intimidate with bomb threats. We are not going to get intimidated by this.”
Madhav said, “She is using such language and words like ‘barood se khelna (playing with the explosives) was to keep herself politically relevant and to gain political mileage.”
“To gain something out of nothing, fear is being created among people by some regional parties. We are not going to be bogged down by statements like barood se khelna etc and will instead take forward peace and development work going on in J&K,” he said. “The party (PDP) should introspect as many senior leaders didn’t even attend its foundation day celebrations.”
He charged both NC and PDP with indulging in fear-mongering only to divert attention from the campaign against corruption launched in J&K.
“Centre launching a crusade against corruption in J&K has unnerved the NC and PDP. Both these parties are creating a war hysteria to divert the attention from the ongoing drive”, he said.
In the early 1950s, like other parts of the country, J&K faced acute grain deficit. The government allotted these barren refugees lands and promised ownership rights over land, provided they started cultivation. The refugees did it: they made the land cultivable, yet they don’t own the land. They are taunted as ‘gair bashinda’ (non-residents). “Three generations have been denied basic human rights. We are citizens of India but are being deprived of our rights that a state subject of J&K enjoys,” says Gandhi.
“Isn’t it ironical that two refugees from West Pakistan —Dr Manmohan Singh and IK Gujral —became the Prime Minister, but we cannot even apply for the job of a peon in J&K,” asked Gandhi.
Why Denial of Rights?
It is not only Article 370 but Article 35A also of the Constitution that counts these refugees out. Article 35A enables the State Assembly to define ‘permanent residents’ and give them special rights and privileges. It also talks about restricting the rights and privileges of all citizens of India who do not fit into this definition of ‘permanent resident’.
As a consequence, no one except those defined as ‘permanent residents’ are entitled to property rights; employment in state government; participation in panchayat, municipalities and legislative assembly elections; admission to government-run technical education institutions; scholarships and other social benefits. The J&K Constitution talks of only those people who were living in J&K before or on May 14, 1944 (state subject).