Why J&K’s Demography Will Change Beyond Belief

The new domicile rules could permanently alter the state, socially and politically

In the 1990s, Jammu and Kashmir intensely speculated the possibility that the Union government might want to alter its demography to deny militants their support base among Muslims, who constituted 68% of its population then. This speculation perhaps arose because the Union government legitimately insisted, on the basis of the Indian Constitution, that J&K was an integral part of India. 

The speculators thought the Union government had two options. The obvious of these was to abrogate Article 35A of the Indian Constitution, which recognised J&K’s right to define permanent state subjects, who alone could enter state services and educational institutes, enjoy property rights, and vote in the Assembly elections. These rights ensured that outsiders did not swamp the state and dilute its identity. 

In those years, it was hard to imagine the Indian state reading down Article 370 and abrogating Art 35A (which the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government did on 5 August 2019). Might it not opt for the second option of issuing permanent resident certificates to non-state-citizens, eventually diluting J&K’s particularistic or special identity over time?

Soon, the speculation turned into a popular allegation. It triggered an outcry that prompted Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah to institute, in 1999, the State Subject Inquiry Commission under Justice (retd) AQ Parray. The commission was tasked with probing whether permanent resident certificates had been issued to those who did not qualify for it. In local parlance, such certificates are called fake PRCs, or fake permanent resident certificates.


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