SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir's four major political parties-- National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Congress and BJP ally People's Conference-- have opposed Governor Satyapal Malik's move to bring any changes to Permanent Residential Certificates (PRCs) rules and warned that it is unacceptable and can have disastrous consequences.
The NC vice-president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah wrote a letter to Governor to express his party's displeasure over changes being mulled by the government to PRC (state residency) rules.
"Our party is of the opinion that this is an attempt to distort the demography of the State and it is detrimental to J&K's special status. It is a brazen act to further create mistrust among people and can have serious ramifications for prospects of peace and harmony in J&K," read the letter.
Terming the move of Governor in the absence of a popular government in the State as "unethical", Omar said, "Any misadventure by the administration could disturb the fragile and precarious peace. We hope you roll back any decision made in this regard."
According to sources, the administration is contemplating to simplify the procedure for grant of PRCs or state residency certificates.
The State's Revenue Department has written to Financial Commissioner, Revenue, Divisional Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners seeking their comments and suggestions at the earliest for simplifying the procedure for grant of state residency certificates.
"You are requested to furnish the suggestions taking into consideration the procedure already defined under the relevant rules viz-a-viz the checklist issued under Jammu and Kashmir Public Services Guarantee Act, 2009 enabling the department to proceed further in the matter," read a communiqué of Revenue Department.
According to experts, any tinkering with PRC law would automatically weaken Article 35A, which empowers J&K Assembly to define 'permanent residents' and grants special privileges to residents of the State.
Former minister and PDP general secretary Abdul Haq Khan said the Governor's rule is a transitory arrangement and the Governor should avoid disrupting the existing laws and procedures in the State.
"Governor's administration has already taken several steps, which have caused suspicion in minds of people. Now going into the most crucial and important territory of PRC can disturb the situation," he said.
Asserting that PRC is a sensitive issue, Khan said the system of granting PRC is an established practice and should not be diluted at any cost.
"It is a matter of identity of the State and any attempt to relax it will meet with resistance. It can open a Pandora's box. No tampering with State subject will be allowed," he added.
The Congress has also opposed any changes in the issuance of State subject certificates.
"Any changes to PRC will not be in the interest of State. Rather it will have serious implications on the society," a Congress spokesman said.
He said since the Assembly has been dissolved, Governor's administration has no mandate to interfere in the constitutional matters of the State.
The BJP's ally and Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Gani Lone is also opposed to any changes in PRC issuance.
"The Governor's administration needs to restrict itself to basic governance. No structural changes pertaining to PRC or J&K Bank are acceptable. Restrict your energies to what ur mandated to do-which incidentally your not doing. Please don't invent new problems," Sajjad tweeted.
He had recently said that Article 370 and Article 35A are sacred to every resident of the State and there can be no compromise on it.