OPEN LETTER BY A SAFAI KARAMCHARI TO GOVERNMENT OF JAMMU KASHMIR

23 Dec 2017 14:50:38

 


 

 

 

[This is a letter by a person who belongs to a depressed class of people in J&K called Safai Karamchari (Valmiki Samaj). Safai Karamcharis are living below the poverty line in JK. They are not awarded equal treatment by State Government under Art. 14 as is awarded to other residents of J&K. They are deprived of basic human rights by State Government of JK in the garb of Article 35A, that was, inserted in Indian Constitution via backdoor entry in 1954 superseding the established procedure. Article 35A sanctifies the crass discrimination which deals blow to rights and dignity of Safai Karamcharis of JK. They are out rightly denied by State Government in unjust, unfair and discriminatory manner : the, Permanent Resident Certificate, right to vote in local elections of state, government job & social welfare benefits, moreover, even their children are denied admission in Professional colleges. Laws of J&K have reduced them to the position of a “second class citizen“ where Safai Karamcharis can only work as “Sweepers”.]

 

Dated: 16 December, 2017

Subject -  Seeking kind attention and due consideration towards the problems and challenges being faced by more than hundreds of safai karamcharis,  residing permanently in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, caused by the gross violation of their fundamental rights, which have been denied to them ever since 1947

In the year 1957 local safai karamcharis of J&K went on an indefinite strike and it continued over for months as a result of which municipal work all over Jammu & Kashmir came to a standstill and most of the cities (especially Jammu and Srinagar) in the State of Jammu & Kashmir were covered with garbage. In order to cope up with the situation the Jammu & Kashmir Government headed by the Chief Minister Gulam Mohd. took a cabinet decision to bring Safai Karamcharis from other States. Hundreds of people of our Valmiki Samaj from Gurdaspur and Amritsar (Punjab) were brought to Jammu & Kashmir. The Health Officer of Jammu Municipality was authorized by the Government to arrange all facilities for us. They were provided with free transportation and special permit to enter into the State.

We, the Safai karamcharis were allotted land for the construction of houses and we were also provided with all other necessary facilities and amenities for their peaceful living. Most of our Families were provided with residential accommodation in the Gandhi Nagar region of Jammu City. Today Gandhi Nagar Area is considered to be one of the most expensive area’s of Jammu city. Further necessary arrangements were made to accommodate our families from Valmiki samaj in the Jammu Municipality by relaxing the mandatory condition to have Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) in their favor.

All the men and women who were brought from Gurdaspur and Amritsar were not Permanent Resident of Jammu and Kashmir but were still appointed as Safai karamcharis. The Government of Jammu & Kashmir, however, assured us that relaxation in obtaining ‘Permanent Resident Certificate’ would be granted at the appropriate time.

Now almost six decades have gone by, our family size has increased many fold and there are limited jobs available as safai karamcharis in municipalities across the State. The younger generation of our Valmiki Samaj is well qualified, most of them are graduates and many of them have also obtained their master degrees in various fields. But unfortunately it was only after we acquired necessary qualifications and applied for government jobs in the State we came to know that we are not entitled to have a government job other than Sweeper (Safai karamchari) within the State of Jammu & Kashmir.  Even though we are well qualified and fulfill all the necessary conditions and criteria, we are still denied the government job. This amounts to discrimination on the basis of cast and creed.

What else could be greater fraud against our poor Valmikis that our brave, hardworking, talented and well deserving children are not even given opportunity to join any professional course like MBBS, B.Tech, etc., in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Even though our parents are toiling and serving the State for past six decades on the special request of the Government of Jammu & Kashmir. 

The Safai karamcharis working in the Municipal Corporations who have acquired Permanent Resident Certificate are eligible for promotions if they acquire necessary educational qualification.

On the other hand, we, the Safai karamcharis, who were brought in 1957 are not entitled for any promotion, even after serving the State for almost six decades on the request of the State Government itself because till date Government of Jammu & Kashmir has not recognized us as permanent Resident of the State. Since our Valmiki Samaj didn’t come to Jammu on our own but we were brought by the Government itself, equity demands that justice should be done to us by granting us equal status as the rest of the citizens of India.

Generally our Valmiki Samaj belongs to the Schedule Caste but we as brought up in 1957 from adjoining States have not been issued Scheduled Caste Certificate for the reason being we were not issued Permanent Resident Certificate of Jammu & Kashmir. This discrimination deprived our families to reap any benefit to which we were entitled to under the policy of the Central Government or State Government being a person belonging to schedule caste.

Apart from constraint on the Government Jobs for us, the colonies in which we are living for example Christian Colony, Bakshi Nagar, Dogra Hall, Resham Ghar, Valmiki Colony, Gandhi Nagar etc., have not been regularized by the State Government till date. Though the land on which these colonies are constructed were allotted to our families of Valmiki Samaj to construct houses when they were brought to Jammu & Kashmir.  As per the communication No. JDA/VC/331/34/PS dated 20-08-2004 thirteen colonies were recommended by the Vice Chairman, Jammu Development Authority for regularization but quite surprisingly the list issued by the Housing and Urban Development Department for regularization, these thirteen colonies of safai karamcharis (scheduled casts) were ignored and not regularized.

It is pertinent to mention here though at the cost of repetition that most of our Valmiki Samaj families who were brought from the nearby States are settled in the Gandhi Nagar region in Jammu. Over a period of time this area has developed into a posh area of the city. Since government of Jammu & Kashmir itself accommodated our families in this area but even after six decades our poor people are still living in the dark as regards to the status of their property in which they are currently living. Since, Gandhi Nagar is a posh area, many high profile people are eyeing to acquire the land belonging to our poor Valmikis and we are consistently been pressurized to vacate the land on which we have been living for over six decades.

We are the citizens of India and we went to Jammu & Kashmir on the demand of Government of Jammu & Kashmir with the promise that we will be given all the facilities necessary for our livelihood but even after sixty years in Jammu & Kashmir we are still not allowed to participate in the local State elections of  Jammu & Kashmir. We cannot cast our vote in the local elections though we are allowed to cast our vote to elect a Member of Parliament.

Jammu & Kashmir State Government has constantly been in the habit to oppress and suppress the legitimate demands of Schedule caste and other backward classes of people living in the State of Jammu & Kashmir who have not been given Permanent Resident Certificates in their favour. Howsoever, significant their contribution may have been towards the progress of the Jammu & Kashmir.

Our Plight is presently so grievous that:

  • We don’t have security of ownership of the houses that we have occupied for approximately 6 decades,
  • We can’t avail our fundamental rights which should be guaranteed to us as citizens of India,
  • Our children have no right to obtain higher (professional and technical) education in the State where we have lived in for three generations,
  • We are discriminated against in the matter of securing government jobs even though we have the requisite qualification,
  • We have become bonded laborers in the State confined to garbage collection and sweeper work, which amounts to slavery of a sort.
  • To crown it all, our greatest peril lies in the fact that the State has (contrary to national and international human rights law) thwarted out any mechanism or procedure for us to achieve our fundamental rights, by implementing a farce called “Permanent Resident Certificate”.

Therefore in the light of above mentioned facts and circumstances, it is most humbly requested that this Government should take appropriate measures to help our poor and backward Valmikis who have been deprived of their fundamental rights for past six decades. Now, it is time that they should be brought into the mainstream of Jammu and Kashmir population and they should be given access to their fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of India and in keeping with India’s international obligations to follow the U.N. Charter and international conventions.       

 

Yours Sincerely,

Gharu Bhatti

(Victim of Jammu Kashmir)

 

Residents of the Valmiki Colony discuss community issues in Jammu on Friday

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