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news details
The abandoned Valmikis in Jammu
8/28/2018 11:25:57 PM

Early Times Report
Jammu, Aug 28: A terribly uncertain future awaits and stares generations of a 5,000-strong Valmiki community residing in Jammu for more than 6 decades now, thanks to discriminatory provisions in the constitution. They had been brought to Jammu from Punjab by the then Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad government to save Jammu from an awkward situation. They were brought in after a solemn commitment that they would be granted citizenship and given all the rights enjoyed by the people in the state.
It was in 1957 that the sweepers' union in Jammu city went on an indefinite strike pressing for the fulfilment of their demands such as salary hike and regularization of jobs. The whole sanitary work came to a standstill and the hygienic condition worsened in the winter capital of the state as the impasse between the state administration and the agitators went on for more than 30 days. The situation climaxed to the point that the then state government, headed by the "Prime Minister" of J&K, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, decided to requisition sweepers from other states. The then Pratap Singh Kairon government in neighbouring Punjab was approached and negotiations were facilitated by the then J&K Health Secretary Dr Mody, originally a Punjabi himself.
No less than 272 sweeper families were shifted from Punjab and settled in colonies in Jammu city with the promise that they would be accorded the status of permanent residents of J&K and given all the rights enjoyed by the people there. Modifications were also made in the J&K Civil Services Rules to accommodate the families in the state. However, a clause was inserted in the rules that barred these sweepers from switching to any other profession.
All went well for the first generation of the community, as along with regular jobs, they were provided free housing, civic amenities, ration cards, schooling, etc. But when their families expanded and the new generation wanted to go for higher studies and build careers in different fields, they faced the daunting task of proving their domicile.
When they approached the authorities to get issued permanent resident certificates (PRCs) in their favour, their requests were summarily rejected on the basis of provisions such as Article 35A and Section 6 of the J&K Constitution and the above-said clause in the State Service Rules. Many talented youngsters from the community are now facing an "existential crisis" as they simply do not know which place they belong to.
They have now approached the Supreme Court and sought its intervention so that they get citizenship in J&K and enjoy a dignified life.
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