India has granted permanent citizenship status to refugees from West Pakistan, who entered Jammu and Kashmir after the country was partitioned in 1947 as the nation gained independence from Great Britain. According to a report on national broadcaster, All India Radio, these refugees, for the first time, can vote and contest elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
After New Delhi withdrew the region's autonomy in August 2019 and split it into two federally-administered regions, refugees from West Pakistan were given domicile status, the right to purchase land, and apply for government jobs.
Apart from the refugees from Pakistan, people from the socially backward Valmiki community, brought from the Punjab and resettled in Jammu and Kashmir, were also given similar residency status and democratic rights.
The Valmiki community (people mainly engaged in scavenging) have been denied democratic and employment rights for decades. According to the report, descendants from this community were allowed to stay in Jammu and Kashmir "only if they continue to be scavengers".
At present, there are about 400,000 residents, mostly Hindus and Sikhs from West Pakistan, and the Valmiki community in Jammu and Kashmir. They mainly reside along the border areas of the Jammu region.
In April of this year, the federal Home Ministry repealed a series of laws that existed in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and allowed people from outside the region to buy land, barring that used for agricultural purposes.