Article 35-A granted special status to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. It laid down rules regarding who can buy property or land, take admission in public colleges or be given scholarships, contest or vote in Legislative Assembly elections, etc. These privileges were given only to the ‘permanent residents’ of Jammu and Kashmir which is defined under Article 6 of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. This Article did not prove beneficial for various categories of citizens like the non-resident Kashmiris who were not able to buy land there and the children of the Kashmiri women marrying the non-Kashmiris who were denied Permanent Residents Certificate. This scheme was incorporated to ensure that there is no private ownership which hampers the development of the state. As a result of this provision, minorities have suffered because of the lower standard of living as compared to these citizens such as the Valmiki.
Valmiki community came into existence when there was a huge sanitation crisis in Jammu and Kashmir. The local union of sweepers called an indefinite strike highlighting two demands that were regularisation of jobs and hike in salary. Due to the inaction by the authorities, the protest was continued and major parts of the city were turned into garbage dumping zones. The state government then thought of employing the ‘safai karamcharis’ from other states. After the negotiations with the Punjab Government, Valmikis were employed with a promise of rehabilitation in the state. Apart from that, they were promised that government jobs would be granted to their children and the first generation of their community with certain privileges.
The problem arose when permanent resident’s clause was relaxed but a clause was inserted that proved to be a back-door entry in the Civil Service Regulations which made it clear that PRC condition was relaxed only to the extent of the members getting appointed as ‘safai karamcharis’. This meant that the newer generation did not have the Permanent Residents Certificate implying that they could not get regular jobs and pursue the professional courses. Thus, due to the lack of educational opportunities, they would only be able to study until graduation and qualify for the position of a sweeper at the most. There have been various instances where the children of this community were devoid of all the privileges and even after scoring high marks, they were not able to seek admission due to the lack of domicile in the state recruitment processes.
According to the views of several sociologists and authors specializing in the cause of the Dalits, this caste-based discrimination has always been deeply rooted in the entire country. Despite the fact that so many legislations have been passed to uplift the status of these communities, there are numerous instances where the Dalit community continues to face discrimination. For instance, all those people who are involved in manual scavenging, have to do this degrading job which leads to a number of deaths due to the lack of proper facilities.
Dalit and minority communities are facing mistreatment even at the most basic levels. According to the report by the International Dalit Solidarity Network, Indian prison systems disregard the international guidelines laid by the United Nation’s Standard Minimum Rules. The inmates in general and the Dalit prisoners, in particular, are mistreated by the officials and face discrimination in various aspects like food, accommodation, employment or wages provided within the jail. There are various instances where Dalit Community is facing discrimination and there is a violation of fundamental and human rights.
After the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A, it is a celebration time for the Valmiki community and now they have high hopes that they would not be discriminated on the basis of caste due to lack of access of Permanent Residents Certificate. The Valmiki community no longer has to prove their domicile status and would be able to reap the benefits of all the services offered by the State Government. Their third generation would not be called as the community of sweepers and it would pave the way for new opportunities that this community could not avail for a very long time.