While the historic decision of abrogating Article 370 on August 5, 2019, brought relief for many communities across Jammu and Kashmir, who were suffering for past 70 years, the decision had a bigger impact on the Gorkhas in the union territory, who were allegedly being discriminated.
According to the Gorkhas, the discriminatory Article 370 denied basic rights to their offspring in Jammu and Kashmir who came and settled in the erstwhile princely state around 200 years ago.
“Our forefathers were part of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army and when Maharaja Ranjit Singh anointed Gulab Singh as the Raja of Jammu, he gave him a large number of Gorkha soldiers to join his army and defend the people of Jammu” Tej Bahdur, an offspring of one of the Gorkha soliders said.
He said that several of his generations fought for Jammu and Kashmir right from the time of Raja Gulab Singh to the post-independence wars, but despite living in Jammu and Kashmir for over 200 years they were not given the citizenship rights here.
“My family members fought in 1947, 1965 and 1971 wars against Pakistan and also in the 1962 war against China, but we were never considered as the residents of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Thousands of Gorkas who live in various parts of the Jammu region were denied Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC) and hence were ineligible to purchase immoveable property, apply for government jobs, weren’t eligible to study in the government run educational institutions and their children were denied of all the state scholarships.
“During Maharaja’s time we were allotted small plot of land (three Marlas) at that time it was sufficient for one family but as the time passed and the families increased we were not able to move out and purchase more land, so we had to manage in that small plot of land only,” said Kishan Bahadur.
The Gorkha residents of Jammu and Kashmir who, after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A, enjoy all the benefits and privileges that are being enjoyed by every other citizen of Jammu and Kashmir say that the decision taken on August 5, 2019 ended 200 years of discrimination with their entire community.
“In our 200 years of history in Jammu and Kashmir, August 5, 2019 will always remain as a golden chapter, it’s the day when the decimation that our forefathers and our generations suffered finally ended. Every year we celebrate this day as a festival,” he said.
The Gorkhas in Jammu said that for past 70 years their elders tried their best by convincing the successive state governments to grant citizenship rights to them but that never happened.
“Our representations were sent to trash bins by the successive governments, but after the abrogation of article 370 is gone we have got all the rights and privileges that the normal citizens of Jammu and Kashmir used to enjoy,” Bahadur said.