Rajat Sharma

Do not play politics over West Pakistan Refugees

My earnest request to the politicians in Kashmir valley, both mainstream and separatists: For God’s sake, please do not play politics over the issue of West Pakistan refugees. They are not outsiders. After the Partition in 1947, nearly 6,000 families came over from Pakistan and settled in Jammu and Kashmir. At that time, their number was less than 50,000. After staying here for 70 years, several generations have passed, and their present number is roughly 1.5 lakhs, most of them poor Dalits. It would be incorrect to say that the Centre is planning to change the demography of Jammu & Kashmir. These West Pakistan refugees can vote in Lok Sabha elections, but they cannot vote in state assembly polls, since they are not considered subjects of the original princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. These refugees can apply for recruitment in central paramilitary forces, but cannot apply for jobs in J&K government. They are Indian citizens, but they have no rights in Jammu & Kashmir. It was for their benefit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a Rs 2000 crore rehabilitation package, and the current process of issuing them identification cards is towards that end. After Partition, millions of people came over to India, and resided in Delhi, Punjab, UP, Bihar, Bengal and Gujarat, but there was no discrimination against them. If we fail to give equal status and rights to West Pakistan refugees, then we cannot morally raise our voice over atrocities on minorities in Pakistan. It would be better if politicians in the Valley understand this, and stop playing into the hands of Pakistan.

Comments are closed.