“Among those who have received domicile certificates are West Pakistan refugees, numbering over 20,000, nearly all of whom are reportedly covered now” as reported in the Indian Express and other sources confirm the numbers.
If my extended family is an indication, then just about 7 out of 300 who ventured out of then West Pakistan to New India are alive today, and they are all, obviously, in their 70s and 80s and above. A few of them, who came from Rawalpindi side, did try to settle down in the Jammu & Kashmir area, but on realising that they were not really welcome in Jammu & Kashmir, moved on to other parts of India.
More than a dozen of my extended family have served in Jammu & Kashmir, and two have died there, with some more injured too. My late father was there with the earliest troops in the winter of 1947/48. So were my uncles. And my cousins. (Read this beautiful write-up about J&K.)
One of them, his memory lives on in Baramulla area, was of mixed Punjabi Refugee and Naga Angami parentage. My first cousin. Major Abhimanyu Sikka. Never retired. We as a family have more rights on domicile status in Jammu & Kashmir than most other Indians, if fighting and dying for the freedom of Jammu & Kashmir is ever going to be one of the qualifications required.
So why did it take so long for Indians who opted for India to be given domicile status in an Indian State? Oh yes, a secular New India, where all religions were equal?
Ah, yes, 370 can be lobbed at us. But was that all?
Certainly not. There were enough ways to get around 370 if you were from “a particular community”, and not only by the route of marriage, or a walk across the Line of Control.
It was simply that if you were NOT from a particular religion, then you were not welcome to a domicile certificate, and that was that. And therefore, for 73 years, in your own home, you were and remained, an alien.
All that has changed now. 73 years behind schedule, but very welcome all the same, and signs of better things to come.
Like, for example, a Uniform Civil Code. For all except micro-minorities. Towards a New India.