In a controversial move, the local government in Indian-controlled Kashmir has granted “Nativity Certificates” to Hindu refugees from Pakistan there, thus recognizing them to be of Indian decent, Press TV reports.
The recent move by the state administration saw it issuing the documents to the refugees from western Pakistan, who had settled in the area following the Indo-Pakistani war over the disputed region in 1947 but had yet to be granted any status.
The state government took the measure, which had been shunned by its successive predecessors, under the pretext that the Hindus had had relatives living in the state, also known as Jammu and Kashmir.
The locals have denounced the measure as an attempt to pave the way for awarding the refugees permanent Indian citizenship, manipulating the state’s demographics, and altering its Muslim-majority status.
Attending a protest over the issue, Yasin Malik, of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front activist group, said, “We’re not against rehabilitation, but Kashmir is a disputed territory and any such move will be in violation of the UN resolutions and even state law.”
The local authorities, however, say the move has been taken to enable the refugees to apply for jobs in paramilitary forces and other government establishments.
Two months ago, Indian authorities imposed a strict curfew in several parts of the state, reportedly complicating Muslims’ attempts to hold religious rituals during the lunar month of Muharram.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan but is claimed in full by both since the two countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.