Jammu Dogra Order Scrapped

Jammu Dogra Order Scrapped

28 April 2011
The Telegraph (Kolkata)


Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government today effectively withdrew its controversial order to issue Dogra certificates to all Jammu residents, apparently bowing to pressure from separatists. Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani had asked the Omar Abdullah-led government to annul the order by Saturday or face an agitation. The separatist leader said the certificate was a ploy to create a separate Jammu state and “a conspiracy against the Muslims of Jammu”. The U-turn became clear today in a circular put out by the revenue and relief department. It is headed by Congress minister Raman Bhalla, whose party is part of the ruling coalition led by Omar’s National Conference. The order has been carefully worded - the word used was “superseded”, not “revoked” - to prevent a backlash from the Dogras, who claim that the term “Dogra” does not denote any one ethnic group but all residents of Jammu, including Muslims. Bhalla, the man behind the Dogra certificate move, had argued that the step would help all ethnic groups benefit from relaxation in recruitment rules for paramilitary forces. Panchayat elections in the state are on and the Dogras have traditionally supported the Congress whose official stand is that it is opposed to the formation of a separate Jammu state. The Union home ministry had in January announced relaxation in physical standards - such as chest and height measurements - for residents of Kashmir, Leh and Ladakh based on geographical criteria. In Jammu, the relaxation was given to the Dogras but Gujjars, Kashmiris and Paharis, who are mostly Muslims, were left out. Bhalla’s department said the certificate was aimed at ensuring that all groups benefited. But the decision triggered a political storm. “The Dogra certificate is a conspiracy against the Muslims of Jammu, who constitute 45 per cent of the population. This is an attempt to divide the state on communal lines,” Geelani had said. The state government then modified the order and said only those candidates from Jammu seeking employment in the paramilitary forces would be issued such certificates. But this did little to calm tempers. Later, the Union home ministry stepped in and redefined the recruitment rules to extend the relaxation to all Jammu residents. But Geelani wasn’t impressed and demanded the state government order be revoked. Today, the commissioner of the revenue and relief department said: “In view of the order circulated by the Union ministry of home that the relaxation in physical standards has been extended to all the permanent residents of Jammu & Kashmir, the (state) government orders (for Dogra certificate) stand superseded.”


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