West Pakistani Refugees delegation, led by its President Labha Ram Gandhi, met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh here today and submitted a Charter of demands.
The West Pakistan Refugees charter of demands included Citizenship right in the State of J&K, Special package for rehabilitation in J&K, Right to vote/ contest for the State elections, Allotment of land, Special recruitment, Right to education in technical/ professional institutions, Issuance of SC/ OBC certificates. The delegation also demanded for the West Pakistan Refugees appointment of Relief Commissioner for West Pakistani Refugees to look into and redress the grievances.
Rajnath Singh assured the West Pakistan Refugees delegation that he will look into the matter and take necessary action. He said that the MHA has appointed a Nodal Officer to exclusively coordinate with the West Pakistan Refugees community for redressal of their day to day issues. He also said that MHA is working out a suitable provision to overcome the problems faced by the West Pakistani Refugees in terms of non-issuance of SC/ST/ OBC certificates by the State Government.
Even after 70 years, the West Pakistan Refugees face immense discrimination
The West Pakistani Refugees settled in J&K are citizens of India and they have the right to vote in Parliamentary Elections. However, they are not permanent residents of the State in terms of J&K Constitution. They do not enjoy voting rights to the State Assembly and Local Bodies. The conferment of Permanent Resident Status to the West Pakistani refugees settled in J&K falls within the purview of J&K Constitution, which will enable them for Jobs under State Government, for admission into the State Technical/ Professional institutions and the right to purchase/ acquire land/ immovable properties in the State of J&K.
No separate proposal is under consideration of the Government to recruit the children of West Pakistani Refugees (WPRs) in paramilitary forces. However, these children were allowed to be recruited in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) without the condition of having domicile certificate from the designated authority of the State Govt. of J&K. Other proof such as names in the Parliamentary voter list, are to be taken as proof of their being refugees from West Pakistan and the certificate issued by the village Numberdar/ Sarpanch can be accepted and taken into account for the purpose of recruitment in CAPFs and Assam Rifles against the quota of the J&K State. The children of these refugees are eligible to apply against the vacancies in paramilitary forces earmarked for the State of J&K.
In the wake of Pakistani aggression in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947, about 5764 families who migrated from the then West Pakistan are known as the West Pakistan Refugees and they are mainly residing mainly in Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri Districts of Jammu Division.
The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh and the Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi were also present during the talks between Home Minister and the West Pakistan Refugees delegates.
West Pakistan Refugees getting a raw deal
Unlike the Pakistan and Bangladesh minorities, the West Pakistan refugees have got a raw deal till now and their rights or woes have not even mobilized the Indian masses.