The situation of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in J&K was worrisome under Article 370. The SCs and STs were not getting benefit of the provision of reservation given by the Constitution of India for their economic and educational uplift.
In such a situation, it can be understood that in 1950, what Pandit Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah must have been thinking for the SCs and the STs of the State and that is why the uplift and empowerment of the class was never thought in J&K Assembly.
In 1957, people of Balmiki community were brought from Pathankot, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, and others to do cleanliness work. Due to mandate of the State Legislative Assembly of J&K, they were settled by making colony for themselves at different places of the State.
In the Government documents the job was known as ‘Bhangi (sweeper) profession’ on caste basis and they were officially prevented from doing any Government job other than this.
Till the date they have not been given full citizenship of J& K. As a result, people of Balmiki society could get the job of sweeper at the Government level. Due to non availability of Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC), these people could not take advantage of any government’s scheme.
Forget Government jobs, their children were not able to do technical or professional courses in any Government institute because they had to participate in entrance eligibility test before doing any such course, and for this they required PRC.
The biggest surprise was that these people could vote in the Lok Sabha Elections but could not choose the Government of the State.
Around five lakh people belonging to Balmiki communities needed PRC to get equal rights. After knowing such an important fact, the so called pro-Dalit and socialist leaders were ignoring the matter which is biggest example of pseudo secularism.
The situation of the Dalits of the State of J&K can also be compared to the Muslim women and youths of the State.
The Central Government is running many schemes for the uplift and empowerment of women, but due to Section 370 they were not getting benefits of the schemes.
For example, according to the mandate issued by the Modi Government at the Center, every bank in the country has to make entrepreneurs by giving a loan on low interest scheme every year to a woman and a person belonging to SCs and STs. The scheme was running with great success in every State of the Country, but in J & K.
Similarly, many schemes for the youths in the State were run by the Centre for their empowerment and employment, which were not applicable in J & K due to Article 370, as well as many laws which were constituted for the interests of women, children, old people and the general public of J & K were not applicable in J & K.
The entire nation is expressing its happiness today due to the disappearance of this stigma imposed on J & K.
(The writer is the State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Scheduled Tribe (ST) Morcha president)