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Kashmir Muslims fear demographic shift as thousands get residency |NationalTribune.com

Up to 25,000 people have been granted domicile certificates in Indian-administered Kashmir since May 18, raising fears of the beginning of demographic changes in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region. The certificate, a sort of citizenship right, entitles a person to residency and government jobs in the region, which till last year was reserved only for the local…

Kashmir Muslims fear demographic shift as thousands get residency |NationalTribune.com

Up to 25,000 people have been granted domicile certificates in Indian-administered Kashmir since May 18, raising fears of the beginning of demographic changes in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region.
The certificate, a sort of citizenship right, entitles a person to residency and government jobs in the region, which till last year was reserved only for the local population.
Last year on August 5, when India revoked the semi-autonomous status of the region, it also scrapped the local special citizenship law, guaranteed under Article 35 (A) of the Indian constitution. The move has drawn parallel with the occupied West Bank.
On Friday, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden said, “India should take all necessary steps to restore the rights of all the people of Kashmir.”
“Restrictions on dissent, such as peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the internet weakens democracy,” says a policy paper posted on his website.
‘Kashmir becoming another Palestine’
“The decision to provide non-Kashmiri residents with a domicile certificate is certainly the beginning of the end. This is the beginning of Kashmir becoming another Palestine,” Badar-Ul-Islam Sheikh, a 29-year-old resident of the main city of Srinagar, told Al Jazeera.
“It is sad. It is horrible. I fear that time will come that we will not even feel safe in our homes,” he said. “We have been silenced.”
According to a census conducted by India in 2011, out of 12.5 million total population, Muslims comprise 68.31 percent and Hindus 28.43 percent in Kashmir.
Article 35 (A) had barred outsiders, including Indian nationals from other states, from settling and claiming government jobs to maintain the demographic balance in the region, which has seen decades of armed rebellion against the Indian rule.
On Friday, a picture of the domicile certificate issued to Navin Kumar Choudhary, a bureaucrat originally from the Indian state of Bihar, went viral on social media.
In April this year, amid the coronavirus lockdown, the government notified domicile laws making an unspecified number of outsiders eligible for residency and jobs.
According to the new law, any person who has lived in the region for 15 years, or has studied in the region for seven years and passed his class 10 or class 12 examination is eligible for domicile certificate.
Also, children of Indian government employees who have served in the state for 10 years are eligible to settle and claim local residency rights. The law applies even if the children have never lived in Kashmir.
Out of 66, top bureaucrats serving in the region, 38 are outsiders belonging to other Indian states. Many other outsiders serve in various central government institutions like banks, post offices telecommunication facilities, security institutions, and universities.
‘Disastrous’ for the region
Khurram Parvez, a human rights activist based in Srinagar, said the move was “disastrous’ for the whole region.
“It appears government is in some kind of hurry. Within weeks so many people applied,” he told Al Jazeera.
Kashmiri politicians across the divide have said the revocation of special citizenship rights was aimed at reversing the Muslim majority character of the region, which is now directly ruled from New Delhi.
The local legislature, which was directly elected by the people, was suspended in the wake of the scrapping of Article 370 last year.
“All our misgivings about the new domicile rules in J&K are coming to the fore,” tweeted Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, which was earlier a state and now a federally administered region.
Omar was jailed following the removal of the region’s autonomy in August last year along with most prominent Kashmiri leaders who opposed the stripping of the region’s special status by the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was released almost eight months later, in March.
“We in @JKNC_ [Jammu and Kasmir National Conference] opposed the changes because we could see the nefarious design behind the changes. The people of J&K on both sides of the Pir Panjal mountains will be the sufferers of these domicile rules,” he tweeted on Friday.
But the Indian government says the move to change the status of Kashmir was done to integrate the Muslim-majority region with the rest of the country in order to bring development.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity, a government official said, since May 18, when the rules were notified, 33,000 people had applied for the domicile certificates. Out of them, 25,000 people have been granted residency rights, he said.
Most certificates issued in Jammu region
As many as 32,000 applications were filed in 10 districts of the Hindu majority Jammu region in the south. The highest number of 8,500 certificates has been issued in the Doda district, which has a delicate demographic balance, with Muslims comprising 53.81 percent and Hindus 45.76 percent.
Up to 6,213 domicile certificates have been issued in Rajouri district, which has 62.71 percent Muslim population. Authorities have distributed 6,123 residency certificates in Poonch, a border district comprising 90.44 percent Muslim population.
In the Kashmir region, which is about 96.4 percent Muslim population, 435 certificates have been issued so far, out of the total 720 applications.
As of now, it is not clear how many outsiders, like Choudhary, have been issued domicile certificates. The 25,000 new citizens also include Hindu refugees, who had settled in the region at the time of partition of the sub-continent in 1947. They had migrated from territories, now part of Pakistan. But due to Kashmir’s residency laws and special status they were not granted local residency rights.
Parvez, the human rights activist, said the local government, which takes orders from New Delhi, has threatened to penalise officials Rs 50,000 ($660) if a domicile certificate is not issued within stipulated 14 days, adding that it would be difficult to verify the claims of applicants within such a short period.
“If you compare it with northeastern state of Assam, [where the ruling Bharatiya Janata party] BJP [government] wants every application to be scrutinised by officers,” Parvez told Al Jazeera, referring to the state where nearly two million people were left out of a 2019 citizenship list.
“[In Assam] people also had the right to object to anyone’s application. But here neither officers nor anyone else has a right to object to domicile right,” he said.
“The government has already warned those who oppose will have to go to the jail.” Parvez said people were not in support of the law but cannot oppose “under the pressure of gun and state violence”.
“It will only complicate conflict and make things ugly,” he said.
Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir, called Aksai Chin, is also held by China.
Currently, India and China are engaged in a deadly border standoff since the beginning of May. On June 15, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in border fights, creating the worst tensions between Beijing and New Delhi in nearly 50 years.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars – in 1947, 1965, and 1971. Two of them have been over Kashmir.
Kashmiri rebel groups have been fighting for independence or unification with neighbouring Pakistan. They enjoy broad-based popularity in the Kashmir valley.
According to several human rights organisations, thousands of people have been killed since 1989, when India sent tens of thousands of troops to the region to quell the armed rebellion.
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COVID-19: US passes ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll |NationalTribune.com

Sorry, we can’t find the page that you are looking for. Don’t let that stop you from visiting some of our other great related content.EXPLORE MOREPalestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel dealsPalestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.At UN,…

COVID-19: US passes ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll |NationalTribune.com

Sorry, we can’t find the page that you are looking for. Don’t let that stop you from visiting some of our other great related content.EXPLORE MOREPalestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel dealsPalestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.At UN, Qatar emir questions world inaction on Israeli occupationQatar’s leader says Israel continues to carry out ‘flagrant violation of international resolutions’.Lebanon: Hezbollah arms depot blast caused by ‘technical error’Lebanon’s official news agency said explosion took place in southern village of Ein Qana, about 50km south of Beirut.
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Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |NationalTribune.com

Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year. On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the…

Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |NationalTribune.com

Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year.
On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the roof to collapse and parts of the building were blackened by the blaze.
“One of the strong theories is based on internal agents being involved in the incident,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters at a news conference, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).

“The issue is being seriously reviewed by the country’s security organisations and we will announce the results after things are clear.”
It is the first time an Iranian official specifically pointed to the possibility of an inside job for the blast.
In late August, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed the damage to the facility was the result of “sabotage”.
“But how this explosion took place and with what materials … will be announced by security officials in due course,” spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said at the time, citing “security reasons” for not disclosing further information.
‘Sabotage is certain’
In early September, Kamalvandi announced Natanz saboteurs “have been identified” but refrained from discussing further details, including whether internal agents were complicit.
On Tuesday, Rabiei also reiterated that “sabotage is certain” but the incident still needs to be investigated due to its complexities.
The desert Natanz site, much of which is underground, is one of several Iranian facilities regularly monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.
Following the explosion, international media reports indicated Israel may have been behind the attack. Israel has been deliberately vague, neither confirming nor denying involvement while stressing the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.

“Everyone can suspect us in everything and all the time, but I don’t think that’s correct,” Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said days after the attack.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also said “Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear capabilities”, adding to that end, “We take actions that are better left unsaid.”
IAEA-Iran relations
September’s announcement that Iran knows the saboteurs behind the Natanz explosion came one week after IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the country.
The trip was successful, leading to Iran granting access to two suspected former nuclear sites that the UN watchdog wished to inspect.
“In this present context, based on analysis of available information to the IAEA, the IAEA does not have further questions to Iran and further requests for access to locations other than those declared by Iran,” the IAEA and Iranian officials said in a joint statement following the visit.
In a speech during the 64th session of the General Conference of the IAEA on Monday, the president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi referred to the Natanz incident.

“These malicious acts need to be condemned by the agency and member states,” he said via video conference, adding “Iran reserves its rights to protect its facilities and take necessary actions against any threat as appropriate.”
Salehi also urged the UN watchdog not to compromise its “impartiality, independence and professionalism”.
Iran, UN and the United States are locked in a major disagreement centred around the landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers, which US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned in May 2018.
The US on Sunday declared it reinstated all UN sanctions on Iran, an announcement that was roundly rejected by the United Nations Security Council as lacking legal basis.
The US is trying to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name of the nuclear deal.
Iran, which has always maintained it never pursued nuclear weapons, accepted the nuclear deal that removed all UN sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.
The US reneged on the deal, unilaterally imposing a harsh campaign of sanctions that have hit almost all the productive sectors of the Iranian economy. US sanctions have also targeted Iranian officials and organisations.
In response, starting exactly one year after US sanctions were imposed and other parties failed to guarantee economic benefits promised Iran under the deal, Iran started gradually scaling back its nuclear commitments.

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Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |NationalTribune.com

Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel. Palestinians see the deals that the United…

Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |NationalTribune.com

Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel.
Palestinians see the deals that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed with Israel in Washington a week ago as a betrayal of their cause and a blow to their quest for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.
Earlier this month, the Palestinians failed to persuade the Arab League to condemn nations breaking ranks and normalising relations with Israel.
Palestine was supposed to chair Arab League meetings for the next six months, but Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah that it no longer wanted the position.
“Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League’s council [of foreign ministers] at its current session. There is no honour in seeing Arabs rush towards normalisation during its presidency,” Maliki said.
In his remarks, he did not specifically name the UAE and Bahrain, Gulf Arab countries that share with Israel concern over Iran. He said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit had been informed of the Palestinian decision.

Palestinians rally against Bahrain-Israel normalisation

The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.
Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state, in exchange for establishing ties with it.
In a new move addressing internal Palestinian divisions, officials from West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Gaza-based Hamas movement were due to hold reconciliation talks in Turkey on Tuesday.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah forces during a brief round of fighting. Differences over power-sharing have delayed implementation of unity deals agreed since then.
Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies
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