For India, Kashmir has been a sensitive topic of discussion as Pakistan resorts to new lows to disrupt harmony in the union territory. It looks like there's an ally joining the Indian neighbour in those efforts. A report by Turkish news agency has sent shockwaves globally over an unverified and baseless claim about India issuing domicile certificates in Kashmir.
A news report by a Turkish news agency claimed "India has issued over 3.4 million fake domiciles to change Kashmir's demography." The report cites Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, spokesperson for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, who made the shocking claim among other allegations.
The claim made by the PAK official is that the Indian governments issuing fake domicile certificates to non-Kashmiris in a bid to change the demography of the valley. "India continues with its design to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory in clear violation of international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention," the report claimed, quoting Chaudhri. But nowhere in the report are statistics or evidence backing the bold claim, which led us to further fact check it.
International Business Times came across the report by Turkish media on fake domiciles in Kashmir. The headline of the article is not only misleading, but factually incorrect. We verified some facts about issuance of domicile certificates in Kashmir with government sources and found the numbers tell a different story.
The government received a total of 35,44,938 applications for domicile certificates by the end of 2020. Of these 32,31,353 were accepted and around 2 lakh applications were rejected due to the lack of prescribed documents. Interestingly, the government sources revealed that around 31 lakh certificates were issued to dependants or holders of erstwhile Permanent Residents of J&K.
Based on our evidence, IBTimes observed that the report is nothing but false propaganda against the Indian government - all while using unsubstantiated, fictitious data. The domicile certificates are issued in J&K as per the laid down rules and criteria, which is not easy to circumvent or manipulate.
Another government source reiterated that a total of 2,15,438 applications for domicile certificates were rejected last year as they failed to fulfill the requisite criteria for eligibility under the rules. While the majority of domicile certificates were issued to J&K residents already possessing Permanent Resident certificates, the remaining one lakh certificates were issued to West Pakistan refugees and others from Pak-occupied J&K. It appears Pakistan and Turkey are indulging in this fake news dissemination to create tension in the UT, the source added. The news site where the report was published is often described as a propaganda machine for the Turkish government, which doesn't come as a surprise.
Based on the evidence reviewed, IBTimes arrives at the conclusion that the report about India issuing fake domiciles in Kashmir is entirely false.