The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday said that over 16.79 lakh domicile certificates have been issued so far across 20 districts of the Union Territory.

On March 31, the Centre introduced new domicile laws that expanded who can live permanently in Jammu and Kashmir. The new rules replace “permanent residents” of the former state with “domiciles” of the new Union Territory. The administration began to issue certificates in June.

The new laws allow Indian citizens who have lived in Jammu and Kashmir for 15 years, as well as those who have studied there for seven years, to claim a “domicile certificate” for residency benefits. Children of central government officials who worked in Jammu and Kashmir for at least 10 years can also apply.

The new domicile rules were made possible by last year’s August 5 decision, when the Centre removed Article 35A, stripped Jammu and Kashmir of special status under Article 370, and split it into two Union Territories. Article 35A had given the government of the former state powers to define who the “permanent residents” of Jammu and Kashmir were, and to reserve certain rights for them.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration said it has received 21,13,879 applications and granted 16,79,520 certificates. “Of the total domicile certificates issued in the UT, over 14.32 lakh were issued to the PRC [permanent resident certificate] holders, including 1.01 lakh to state subjects and 45,794 to non-state subjects and 34,045 were issued to students,” a press release said.

It added that 19,571 Pakistani refugees, 2,424 Balmiki community members and 765 members of the Gorkha community have also been issued domicile certificates. “The process of issuing domicile certificates in the Union Territory was started in the last week of June, 2020,” the statement said. “The application for the issuing of the domicile certificates can be submitted in tahsildar offices, even as eligible persons can also apply online. The online facility has also been made available to avoid gatherings in view of Covid threat.”

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