Dogra certificate: Move to divide the state

Dogra certificate unconstitutional: Zaffar Shah
Srinagar: The Revenue Minister Raman Bhalla’s ‘absurd’ defence of the proposed Dogra certificate has drawn heavy flak from civil rights activists and legal experts. Bhalla in an interview to a local news agency had said that there was nothing wrong with these certificates and that the government was ready to give similar certificates to the people of Kashmir and Ladakh. “If Kashmiris want Kashmiri certificate, people of Rajouri and Poonch demand Rajput certificate and Ladakhis demand Ladakhi certificate, we would provide them also. Let them come forward and we will consider their case also,” Bhalla said in the interview.

Bhalla tried to justify his obnoxious action by claiming that the special certificate for Dogras of Jammu was only to “give them relaxation in height for recruitment in armed forces and central paramilitary forces, and nothing else”, a big lie that already stands denied by the Army.

Constitutional experts questioning the validity of issuing such a certificate are in unanimity in saying that such a move only promoted regionalism. “Making grant of such a certificate by the state is against the constitutional integration of the state. It constitutional validity can be challenged in the court of law. It is intended to promote disintegration of the state and regionalize the population”, says senior advocate Zaffar A Shah. Shah was of the opinion that in the long term issuance of such certificates may well lead to people from outside the state getting the permanent resident certificates.”

“It is being granted only on the basis of residence which would mean any person residing in Jammu region would become entitled to the certificate, paving way for grant of permanent resident certificate,” Shah added.

Another senior lawyer and former Law minister of the state Muzaffar Hussain Baigh had described Bhalla’s action as unconstitutional. “I wonder how Assembly has maintained silence over the issue. It is in gross violation of the Articles 14 and 16 of the Indian constitution. And even in the state constitution, there is no provision for Dogra Certificates,” Baigh was quoted by local media.

However, Bhalla in his interview rejected Baig’s claim that issuance of Dogra Certificate was violation of Indian Constitution, saying rather contemptuously: “We don’t run the government on Beig’s advice. It is not violation of the Constitution. Government will not take the decision back at any cost.”

Meanwhile, the ministers Defence of the controversial certificate has already attained political colour. Almost all the separatist leaders have denounced the move. Already, Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called for a strike on Monday and New Delhi is also believed to be watching developments very closely.

It may be mentioned here that Army has categorically denied Bhalla’s assertion that Dogra certificate was aimed at to help Jammu Dogras to get recruited in Army. Army spokesman made it clear in a statement that there was no question of any relaxation in the matter of recruitment on the basis of a particular region or community and that the recruitment in the Arm is made purely according to merit and other prescribed qualifications.