Many marginalised communities in Jammu and Kashmir are elated and optimistic towards the future after the Union government decided to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate the erstwhile state into two Union Territories.
One such community is the Valmiki community which settled down in Jammu in 1957. Originally from Punjab, the community was facing several obstacles due to provisions under Article 370.
The community was not recognised as subjects of the state and as a result they could not apply for state government jobs or pursue higher education.
Settled by the government in a colony in Gandhi Nagar area, the residents from the community do not even have ownership rights to their houses.
Tharubhatti, a local, said that the community’s youth can finally dream of opening businesses, apply for government jobs and pursue higher education in the state.
“There is an atmosphere of happiness in the Valmiki community and we can see that our future is bright. There are no restrictions on our youth anymore. Now, they can open a business or pursue higher education,” Tharubhatti said.
“Until now, our youngsters had no incentive to pursue higher studies as we were forced to work as sanitation workers only but now some are dreaming of post-graduation while some want to go for professional courses,” he added.
One of the youngsters from the community, Thomas Gill, said he was unable to appear for Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) examination because of the issues that existed earlier.
“I wanted to appear for Kashmir Administrative Services but when I applied I was told that it was mandatory to be a subject of the state to do the same and so I was rejected. We could not apply for higher education and people who did professional courses were also forced to do sanitation work,” Gill said.
“We are grateful to the Central government for removing the provision and now we can finally dare to dream,” Thomas added.