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62-year-long spell of injustice ends as Valmiki community in Jammu granted domicile certificate

Author: Pradeep Dutta
Publication: Times Now News
Date:  May 19, 2020
URL:      https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/article/62-year-long-spell-of-injustice-ends-as-valmiki-community-in-jammu-granted-domicile-certificate/593907

It's a big day for the marginalised Valmiki community in Jammu. And they finally have something to rejoice about as the Jammu and Kashmir government grants domicile to the community.

Jammu and Kashmir government's decision to grant domicile certificate to Valmiki Samaj (community of safari karamcharis) has generated a new ray of hope for the community.

''Now we too can lead a dignified life. All these years we had been treated like slaves. We were denied basic constitutional and fundamental rights,'' rues Eklavya, a member of the Valmiki community. 

Eklavya's angry reaction is much obvious. Even after completing his PhD, a sweeper was the only job he was entitled to. Now with a domicile certificate in hand, like any other citizen of Jammu and Kashmir, he can apply for a government job.

It was in 1957 that members of Valmiki community came to Jammu from Punjab's Amritsar and Gurdaspur area following an invitation from the then state govt headed by Prime Minister Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad.

The decision to call safai karamcharis from Punjab was taken following the strike by local sweeper's union that led to a sanitation crisis in Jammu city. The then ruling dispensation promised them rehabilitation in the state, saying that the 'permanent resident' clause would be relaxed for them. But those promises were never fulfilled making this community suffer for decades together.

For six long decades, Valmikis have struggled to get this piece of paper (domicile certificate) so that they too can pursue their dreams.

Their long wait came to an end when J-K govt on Monday issued notification defining the rules of issuing domicile certificates in the Union Territory.

All these years members of this community struggled to get jobs, but due to unavailability of Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) they were denied the same. At every step, they had to face discrimination. Unfazed by the shabby treatment they been receiving at the hands of respective governments in Jammu and Kashmir, the Valmiki Samaj continued with their struggle.

''Now we see a bright future ahead of us. Now we will be able to fulfil our dreams which were not possible due to Article 370", expresses Thomas, euphoric graduate student from the Valmiki community in Jammu.

Alike Thomas, this sentiment has been echoed by other members of the community. They feel domicile certificate would have remained a distant dream for them, had Prime Minister Narendra Modi not abrogated discriminatory Article 370. 

Ever since Parliament took the decision of abrogating Article 370, the Valmiki community has been celebrating the historic decision. Granting of domicile certificate has further filled their heart with happiness.

"This marks independence for us in true sense. We feel as if the shackles of slavery have finally been broken. No more we will have to clean piles of garbage,'' says elated S Bhatti, another community member.


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