August 2018 News

Top Athlete 'victim' Of Art 35A

8 August 2018
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Dinesh Manhotra

Jammu: Unfazed by politicisation of the Article 35A controversy across the state, Radhika Gill, a 18-year-old Dalit and a top athlete of Jammu, on Wednesday vowed to take her fight for the 'dignity and self-respect' of her marginalised community to a logical conclusion. 'It is a battle for the liberation of our community from the yoke of worst-ever slavery,' observed Radhika, who is challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A in the Supreme Court. 'We have challenged the existence of this Article. Let the politicians debate whether it good or bad for people,' she said. Before September 20, 2016, Radhika was unaware of the discrimination and humiliation being meted out to her community in J&K since 1957 as safai karmacharis. Despite qualifying for all tests of the Central forces during a recruitment rally, Radhika's candidature was rejected as she could not produce domicile certificate or state subject. 'When I approached the authorities concerned, they bluntly told me we are eligible for getting only non-permanent residents certificate, according to which we are eligible only for the job of sweepers in the state government sector,' said Radhika. Radhika showed excellence in the 14th state athlete meet held recently, but for employment, she is only eligible for the job of sweeper due to the provisions of Article 35A. Charan Dass, her grandfather, was among those Valmiki families who were brought from Punjab by then Prime Minister of J&K Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad in 1957 with a promise to provide them all rights. 'The third generation of our community is facing slavery and the future of our educated youth is bleak,' rued Gharu Bhatti, president of the Valmiki Samaj. Constitutional experts said the successive state governments had adopted inhumane approach towards the community. 'There are provisions in the J&K Constitution to provide some rights to this community,' they said. They said in Sections 8 and 9 of the J&K's Constitution, there was wide scope to provide rights to Dalits and issue just one executive order to make them eligible for government jobs in the state.