Since 1947, we are living in Jammu. My father had to switch over to other job as we lost all our fame in the past six decades.
With the proposed move of Government of India on giving West Pakistan Refugees citizenship rights in JK triggering a massive controversy, the Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) refugees living in Jammu since 1947 Monday said they should be allowed to go back to their homes if WPRs are settled here.
The PaK refugees, who claim to be 12 lakh in number, said for the Government of India they should be the priority, not the WPRs ‘who can’t be given citizenship rights as they doesn’t belong to JK.’
The PaK refugees maintained that despite having Permanent Resident Certificates (PRCs) and full voting rights, they have been living a miserable life post partition. For Madan Lal, a prominent contractor of Mirpur, life was smooth till November 24, 1947, when his native place in PaK was captured. But life changed not only for him but for lakhs of other people who migrated to Jammu region of the State.
“When rebels captured Mirpur, we were forced to live in Ali Beg Camp for many days. We were looked after by the International Red Cross team,” said Rajiv Chuni, Lal’s son, who heads PaK Refugees Association in Jammu. Chuni also heads an NGO spearheading campaign for restoration of rights of PaK refugees, named as SoS International. “Since 1947, we are living in Jammu. My father had to switch over to other job as we lost all our fame in the past six decades,” said Chuni.
He said despite having the right to vote and PRCs, the condition of PaK refugees is miserable. “We had business, property and blood relations in Mirpur which we lost due to partition,” said Chuni. He said they will oppose the proposed move of the Government of India about settlement of WPRs tooth and nail. “Despite being the state subjects of the State, we are living a life full of miseries. How can Centre settle WPRs who are not the residents of the JK,” Chuni asked. “If Centre goes ahead with the settlement of WPRs, then we should be allowed to settle down back in our native places like Mirpur, where our properties worth billions are in a dilapidated condition.”
Chuni’s house in Mirpur has submerged due to the construction of Mangla Dam. “We are not allowed to visit Mirpur despite the fact that J&K State has been one,” he said.
Taking a dig at Government of India for working on a settlement plan of WPRs, Chuni said when Centre has not given any citizenship to Hindus who migrated to Rajasthan during partition, how come WPRs would be given PRCs. “This double standard won’t work. We are huge in number and would oppose any move aimed at settlement of WPRs who are just 60,000 in number,” he said.
J S Mangal, vice-chairman SoS International, said the Government of India has labeled them as PaK displaced persons. “If Government of India believes that the part of Kashmir under Pakistan’s control is part of the one state called JK, then we should be allowed to settle down again in our original places where our properties, land and other assets are in shambles,” said Mangal, a refugee from Muzaffarabad.
About the package previous State government had worked out for the PaK refugees for their one-time settlement, the Chairman PaK Refugees Association said they have come to know that the package draft has been put on hold due to the WPRs. “The Centre knows if they implement the JK government’s package for PaK refugees, WPRs would oppose the move,” he said. Advocating simple solution for the WPRs, Chuni said they should be given a package and should be told that they can’t have citizenship rights as they are non-State subjects.