‘Process Started In Jammu While Kashmir Was On Fire’

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Srinagar: The process of handing Domicile Certificate to West Pakistan Refugees (WPR) had begun a week after death of commander Burhan Wani engulfed Kashmir valley in chaos. 

Quoting unnamed reliable sources, local news agency, CNS reported when Kashmir was reeling under unrest and unabated killings were taking place, a certain section from BJP with the backing of some top ministers started working on the idea of providing “Domicile Certificates” to the West Pakistan refugees who reside in different parts of Jammu region.

The refugees, who number around 1.5 lakh, according to government estimates (unofficial records put their numbers over 5 lakh) have been residing in all but 8 assembly constituencies of Jammu region since their arrival in 1947. 

Report said that to clear all the bottlenecks, with the backing of some influential BJP leaders all the top Muslim officials from Revenue Department working in Akhnoor, Chhamb and other parts were transferred in August this year and they were replaced by Hindu officers. 

These new Revenue officials according to reliable sources received directions from the government asking them to issue Permanent Identification Number cards to the refugees. “It is a gradual process. Now they will be in possession of “Domicile Certificates” and later on they will get Voter Cards and finally Permanent Resident Certificates,” said an official wishing not to be named. He added that this move will be a major setback for People’s Democratic Party back in Valley while it is a boon for BJP which treats refugees as a major vote bank once they get state subject certificates.

Pertinently, in its election manifesto, BJP had promised these West Pakistan Refugees of granting state subject rights though settling non-state subjects is banned under the special laws the state of Jammu and Kashmir enjoys.

Government has claimed that it was only issuing “identity certificates” to the refugees that only shows where they lived in West Pakistan and where they live in the state now and this certificate will help them to get a job in any Central Government Department. Separatists and Opposition parties are not ready to buy the government version and they are looking the issue through the prism of a great conspiracy.

It is pertinent to mention here that the refugees from West Pakistan cannot take part in Assembly elections, own immovable property or get a job in the state government. Despite this fact last year in 2015, a parliamentary panel on home affairs had recommended residency and voting rights in state Assembly elections for these refugees. (CNS)

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