In Jammu, WRPs, Valmikies, Gorkha voted first time in 70 years

In year 2020 West Pakistan Refugees (WPR), Valmikies and Gorkha Community who used to non-Permanent Resident Certificates (PRCs) voted for the first time in 70 years while youth opposed the domicile laws and sought protection of jobs and land in J&K.

The WRPs, Valmikies and Gorkha Community members voted in the recently-concluded Panchayat and Urban Local Bodies (ULB) by-polls and District Development Council (DDC) elections.

The elections for DDC were held for the first time in J&K, which was the major political activity in the4 region post August 5, 2019 when New Delhi abrogated Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

The unemployed educated youth took to social media as a means to protest amid COVID19 lockdown, seeking protection of government jobs exclusively for the residents of J&K after the gazetted and non-gazetted government jobs were opened to all Indian nationals.

Even as Article 370 abrogation was celebrated in parts of Jammu region, voices were raised against the opening of gazetted posts for all India national while keeping only class fourth jobs for J&K residents. The youth also questioned domicile laws on social media.

The political leaders in Jammu who were detained for different reasons were allowed to hold their public meetings and press conferences in contrast to the last four months of 2019.

There was strong resentment against the government decision among the educated unemployed youth who adopted different means to lodge their protest through Twitter and Facebook when strict lockdown was imposed in J&K as a measure to prevent COVID19 spread.

The youth also raised voice for SRO-202, seeking equal pay for equal work, advertisement of 50,000 promised jobs and restoration of UPSC age relaxation for the aspirants of J&K. Jammu also agitated against the new land laws.

As educated youth started campaign on social media, a mysterious “masked man” appeared all of a sudden in some areas of Jammu city holding placards seeking restoration of 4G mobile internet, jobs, rollback of toll plazas and restoration of statehood to J&K and it soon garnered support all over, particularly from the youth.

While the social media was abuzz expressing resentment on various issues, two regional political parties came into being in 2020 in Jammu.

First, it was Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party (DSSP) founded by former Member of Parliament Choudhary Lal Singh. Another political party, IkkJutt Jammu was founded by lawyer Ankur Sharma. Both the political parties are demanding separate statehood for Jammu region.

Though they claim to have support in Kathua and Samba districts, both these parties failed to get even a single seat in the DDC polls.

It was the first time in history that pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi Shrine at Katra in Reasi district was stopped for several months due to COVID19.