Rajee, a sanitary worker in Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC), has reason to celebrate the achievement of his son Karan in the 12th standard examination conducted by the J&K Board of School Education, for the session 2020-21.

Karan, a Dalit Valmiki boy, has secured 98.2 percent marks with an overall second position in the commerce stream.

Abrogation of Article 35-A has rekindled a ray of hope among the meritorious and deserving students of the Valmiki community to get their dreams fulfilled.

"My dream is to become a Chartered Accountant so I opted for commerce," Karan said and exuded confidence that he will fulfill his dream because after getting a domicile certificate he is now eligible to take admission in any government institute.

Abrogation of article 370

"We cannot afford higher education for our children in any private professional institution due to our economic condition," Rajee said but hastened to add that after the abrogation of Article 35-A, their children are eligible to take admission in any government institute.

After 63 years, Valmikis liberated from slavery

For the brutalized Valmikis in Jammu and Kashmir, the abrogation of Article 35-A had brought freedom and domicile status. For the first time in three generations, they became eligible for getting citizenship of J&K.

It was the result of a 63-year-long struggle that the government ultimately recognized these "helpless" Valmikis as "permanent residents" of J&K and granted them a domicile certificate to "liberate them from slavery."

Due to Article 35-A, Valmikis, living in different areas of Jammu since 1957, were not eligible for citizenship of J&K so they were denied admission in government institutions and were also debarred from getting government jobs.

"Decision of the government to abrogate Article 35-A has liberated our community from the worst ever slavery," Garu Bhatti, a leader of the Valmiki community, told International Business Times.

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Valmikis were entitled only to sanitary worker's job

"We have been living in Jammu since 1957 but were deprived of all constitutional and human rights due to Article 35-A. Our highly qualified youth were debarred from claiming any government job in J&K. They were entitled only for the job of sweeper in J&K," Garu Bhatti, who was fighting the battle for the last five years told the IBTimes. He observed that the abrogation of Article 35-A has changed the destiny of the coming generation of the Valmiki community.

Leader of Valmiki Garu Bhatti
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The agony of Valmikis started in 1957

The agony of Valmikis started way back in 1957 when they were specially called from Punjab to be employed as Safai Karamcharis (sanitary workers) by the then Wazir-e-Azam of the erstwhile state of J&K, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad.

Over 250 families of Valmikis were brought from Gurdaspur and Amritsar with the promise of providing them all constitutional rights like other citizens of J&K. It was on this assurance that the Valmikis from Punjab were agreed to work in Jammu. Since 1957, they were struggling to get rights that other residents of J&K were enjoying, but to no avail.

After the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, the permanent resident certificates (PRCs) law was abolished and replaced by the new Domicile Law.

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