NC, Congress at loggerheads

Congress Delegation Meets PM; Only PaK Refugees JK Citizens: NC

Rehabilitation Of Refugees

ABID BASHIR

Srinagar, Dec 21: Coalition partners in J&K are set for a major face-off over the rehabilitation of post-partition refugees with National Conference strongly opposing the settlement of West Pakistan refugees on the grounds that the move can “severely damage the special status and constitution of J&K” while the Congress is lobbying hard to seek “identity and living rights” for them.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, the Additional General Secretary of National Conference Dr Sheikh Mustafa Kamal said: “We will oppose the settlement of West Pakistan refugees in J&K tooth and nail. The move will cause a major damage to the Article 370 and the Constitution of J&K.”
He said as far as the rehabilitation of refugees belonging to Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK) are concerned, the party has no problem if they are rehabilitated within the State.
He said the law that disallows the settlement of West Pakistan refugees was enacted by the then Maharaja of J&K Hari Singh at the behest of Kashmiri Pandits. “The law has logic as we can’t allow non-state subjects to settle in J&K. If they are allowed to live here, they will buy properties including land, which is in violation of our constitution,” he said.
He termed the Congress’ lobbying for the settlement of West Pakistan refuges as a “vote-bank politics aimed at weakening the State Constitution.”
The State Congress chief Saifuddin Soz however said whatever the refugees seek has to be seen by the J&K government and New Delhi. “The refugees have to be rehabilitated as per the rules of the both governments,” Soz said.
Senior Congress leader and former minister, Manjeet Singh, who recently met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi to discuss the rehabilitation of West Pakistan and PaK refugees, said he sought a major package for all refugees from the Government of India.
“I pleaded the case of West Pakistan refugees first. Since they are not the State subjects but are living in the State for the last 65 years need to be given some rights to live. I requested the Prime Minister to give living rights plus other fringe benefits to the West Pakistan refugees,” he said. “They don’t have any identity at present and are facing tremendous hardships.”
Singh said he also sought Rs 25 lakh package for each family of 1947 post-partition and the war refugees of 1965 and 1971. “We hope something concrete will come up soon. Otherwise, the refugees will launch a stir,” he said. “The Prime Minister told me that the J&K government has already been directed to prepare a comprehensive report about the number of refugees, category wise. This indicates that they may receive some mega-package from New Delhi.”
Rajiv Chuni, who represents PaK refugees, said it was ironical to see the reply of an RTI filed by him about the funds released for the Kashmiri Pandits and refugees over the past 20 years. “The reply states that the KPs have been provided with Rs 22675 crore while PaK refugees whose number is 12 lakh, have got only Rs 83 crore,” he said.
With regard to the West Pakistan refugees, he said they are 20,000 families living in various districts of Jammu division.
Sources said Revenue Ministry is in the process of preparing a report about the fate and number of refugees, category-wise. “The report will be submitted to the government by March,” a source said.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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