Money charged from applicants for ‘Domicile certificates’ in Pulwama
Applicants line up to submit their applications at Tehsil Office Pulwama

PULWAMA — As people, mostly youth, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district continue to flock Internet cafes and Tehsil offices to apply for Domicile Certificates, a ‘hidden fee’ is being charged from the applicants.

Locals said that they are being charged money for the applications which are supposed to have no application fee.

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“I went to a local Internet cafe in the town for filling the online application and it took him few minutes. But I was stunned after being asked to pay Rs 100 for the same,” Shamim Ahmad, a guy from Looswani village, said.

It is not just about over-charging by the Internet cafes, the locals alleged that they were asked to pay Rs 50 each at Tehsil Office Pulwama.

Shafiqa Jan, from Chatripora village, said, “The employees at Tehsil office are demanding Rs 50 from each applicant for submitting printed copy of online applications.”

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It’s irony that the application, which was supposed to be free, is costing Rs 100 to 150 per applicant. “This hidden fee is a cause of embarrassment for some. Last day, an old man who wanted to submit her daughter’s application form but left the Tehsil office when he came to know that Rs 50 were being demanded. I was so disturbed to see the old man’s plight,” Shahid Magray, a youth, narrated.

A lower-rung employee at Tehsil office, however, said that the amount was only for Red Cross and it was not compulsory.

When contacted, Tehsildar Pulwama feigned ignorance about the matter, saying he will look into it.

Recently, Lieutenant-Governor Girish Chandra Murmu launched an e-application to fast-track the issuance of domicile certificates. The administration directed all J&K locals to produce their Aadhaar numbers and PRCs to receive the certificate online. However, the online process was marred due to absence of high-speed mobile Internet and dependence on Internet cafes.

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It is pertinent to mention here that the Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules, 2020 were notified on May 18 and allowed different categories of non-locals, including non-local government employees, to register for domicile certificates—an exercise which became possible after the August 05, 2019 decision to end the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

The domicile status certificate is now a basic eligibility condition for admission to educational institutions and applications for professional examinations & local job recruitments.

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