Ranauat? Who?

Kangana Ranauat, the Himachali lass, knocking on the door of real stardom with moderate doses of success, perhaps, has left me wondering what exactly she meant by describing Mumbai, the film city, as a replica perhaps of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). Which, if it be true should be read as a compliment to Pakistan. Ranauat, a controversial personality even ordinarily perhaps was so carried away by emotion that she likened her lot to that of the three lakh odd Kashmiri Pandits who migrated from the state following a heightened phase of terrorism in the valley in 1990s.

The comparison drawn by her between the post-terror Kashmir and Mumbai hardly brings any credit to the actress or her plight when she said she could now sympathize with Kashmiri Pandits who, for all I know refer to themselves as migrants from the state, many at least at the moment wanting to return to their abandoned homes. What percentage of Pandits and with what kind of balm thrown in to make their return home feasible, if not attractive, remains to be seen even as the former state of Jammu and Kashmir celebrates their “return” home.  For they are a people forced out of their homes and would ideally have liked to be home. On many or even what percentage would take the plunge now is hard to tell.  As far Kangana Ranauat’s likening her position to that of Kashmiri Pandits, she is either ignorant or just simply trying to gain sympathy. 

For one thing, Kangana is a film star who obviously had set up a deluxe office in a plush Mumbai area.  She has violated building laws which whatever the merits of her case had already been ordered to be demolished. Unlike the Kashmiri Pandits with whom she seemed to be making a common cause her family’s properties are safe and hopefully prospering in her home state Himachal Pradesh where no other Indian bar the scanty exceptions, can buy land or hope to settle down. Such restrictions on Indian citizens buying immovable property in States other than of their origin are strictly followed in most parts of India.

And this had a stricter enforcement in Jammu and Kashmir where nearly a century ago the ruling Dogra Maharaja had enforced what’s is popularly known as the State subject law. The law made it extremely difficult for non State subjects to buy immovable property, namely land, in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. This protected their lands and properties in addition to securing them jobs within the State.

Sadly, unlike Kangana Ranauat bemoaning the damage caused to her Mumbai offices causing the opposition BJP in the State to openly embrace her and her cause, and offering her ”Y” plus category security cover-Jammu and Kashmir currently is in a advanced stage of being “nationalized”. Nationalized not in the sense you would an industry or an Airline perhaps but simply treating the Union Territory as a piece of property which anyone with the will can own – at a price.

The State authorities have already cleared the domiciled status of several hundred thousand former non-state subjects. According to official figures out of a total of 17,18,887 people who had applied for domicile certificates 12,43,996 had by last week already got their fresh papers which in effect, as of this moment, mean that many fresh voters at the election of the new UT Assembly, whenever this take place.

The old state Assembly for Jammu and Kashmir including Ladakh was dissolved seems an eternity ago, sadly while Ladakh counted as a separate Union Territory, the new Jammu and Kashmir Assembly may still not lack in numbers. Ongoing process of delimitation of constituencies is bound to reflect the considerably enhanced voter population including those like the refugees from Pakistan who were content thus far with permanent resident status. They have now been accorded full citizenship rights, including the right to vote to this State Assembly. The numbers are likely to rise higher as rehabilitation plans for other groups in the valley take concrete shape.

Official break-up says that over 10.95 lakh domicile certificates have been issued to people holding a permanent resident certificate – 8.5 lakhs in Jammu division and around 2.39 lakhs in Kashmir. Of the remaining 1.49 lakh certificates, 77000 were to students and 13373 to Kashmiri migrants/children.

The number of Kashmiri Pandit migrants, around with domicile certificates and willing to return to the valley should be substantial though I have my doubts if many of them would like to take a plunge into an uncertain future in a State riven with communal division, thanks to the 1990 migration. The BJP dispensation, though, would be hell-bent on neutralizing the majority the Muslims have in the valley.

As it is, I am not aware of any serious Kashmiri Pandit effort to return to their abandoned homes. For the record all the political parties, separatist as much as the so-called mainstream, are committed to a return home of the Pandits. I for one am unsure about the numbers, even with the BJP’s unstated commitment to deprive Jammu and Kashmir of its unique status as the only Muslim majority state within the Indian Union. Miss Kangana Ranauat may have to find a substitute for Kashmir and Kashmiri Pandits in that case.

Official breakup of results already achieved so far have domicile certificate issued at 10.95 lakh to those holding a permanent resident certificates – 8.5 lakhs in Jammu division and around 2.3 lakhs in Kashmir. Of the remaining 1.49 lakh certificates, 77000 were issued to other residents/children, 67000 to students and 13,373 to Kashmiri migrants/children.

Lest you run away with the impression that this is the last of such certificates, be assured that many more thousands are on way prior to the delimitation of constituencies which is the real thing when it comes to determining which “division” gets how many seats in the State Legislature. The initial effort obviously is to even up the score between the valley and Jammu Divisions. With renewed efforts to introduce a larger number of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes first time voters the picture may be even graver.

Meanwhile the unfolding tragicomedy in Kashmir continues to baffle, the lid on the violence held tightly under the iron heel of the security forces. The politicians, even of the former mainstreamers are reduce to mere helpless witnesses.