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SOURCE: FIRST POST

Satpal Nischal had come to Srinagar as a young boy with his father. He worked as a goldsmith, living as a tenant, and worked his way up to build a house in upscale Indira Nagar. His family lived amicably with their Muslim neighbours for over four decades.

Then, at 65, he got his domicile as a resident of Kashmir after the Narendra Modi government scrapped Article 370 and Article 35A.

He could own land in Kashmir now. He was also a marked man.

Terrorists shot him at his shop last week. The Resistance Front (TRF), purportedly a Lashkar-e-Taiba front, took responsibility for the attack. It warned all “outsiders” like Nischal who had received domicile certificates: “We know your names, we know where you live and we know what you do. We are coming for you.”

Why such a vicious reprisal?

Pakistan, the vanguard and sponsor of terror in the subcontinent, has been nervous ever since the first official missile was fired against nearly a millennium of Islamist demographic takeover by scrapping Kashmir’s special status. The new Jammu and Kashmir grant of domicile certificate procedure rules, 2020, has turned that nervousness into panic.

More than 25,000 individuals (“outsiders”, as separatists call them) reportedly got domicile under the new rules.

Domicile replaces the previously bigoted norms under which women, LGBTQIA individuals, Dalits and labourers settled for decades in the state and refugees were denied land rights in some form or the other. The new law extends domicile to persons who have lived in Jammu and Kashmir for 15 years, or have studied for seven years, or appeared in Class 10 or Class 12 exams, and refugees from west Pakistan.

Hostile officers can’t stop its implementation. In case the domicile certificate is not issued within a period of seven working days, Rs 50,000 is to be recovered from the salary of the competent authority (tehsildar or Relief and Rehabilitation Commission-Migrants).

Against this backdrop, Nischal was killed. The liberal veneer of ‘Kashmiriyat’ once again slipped to bare the real agenda of separatism and terror in Kashmir: Islamist fundamentalism.

But there was not a murmur among mainstream and social media’s ‘liberal’ circles. It was as if Nischal brought it upon himself by seeking his domicile status as a Kashmiri. All those who copiously outraged for migrants during the lockdown refused to see that this was a migrant who contributed to a state with his hard work, living in social harmony, till he aspired for domicile in the place he called home. That too in his own country.

Neither terrorists nor their sympathisers can now stop Kashmir’s march out of the blood swamps. Both momentum and arithmetic have turned against them. Thousands of Nischals are submitting their applications, and slowly thumping on the cold desks seeking change.