NEW DELHI: Apparently hinting at the decision to settle West Pakistan Refugees (Sharnarthis) permanently in the state, Union Minister Jitendra Singh Saturday said that the West Pakistan refugees have chosen Jammu and Kashmir as their home and they could not be held to ransom.
Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, said while separatists were doing politics of “convenience not conviction”, the mainstream parties too toed their line when out of power.
Terming the opposition to the issuance of identity cards to West Pakistan refugees (WPRs) as a “needless controversy”, he said it is “inhuman” to resist any help to refugees who have been languishing without any livelihood for past 70 years.
Accusing separatists and NC of “politicking” on the issue, he said, “Separatists lobby of Kashmir are separatists due to their convenience and not because of conviction.” “Similarly the so-called mainstream politicians tend to take the separatist line because the moment they take to power they swear that J&K is integral part of India and when they are shunted out of power, they overnight start questioning the status of Jammu and Kashmir,” Singh told reporters here.
The Minister of State in PMO was replying to questions about opposition by the separatists and National Conference to issuance of identity certificates to WPRs.
“This is politicking which is happening by some who are devoid of conviction and ideology.
“It is the duplicity of these elements to hoodwink the innocent masses of Jammu and Kashmir but the saving grace is that youth of the state is wiser than before,” Union Minister said. Singh, while replying to other questions on the issue, said, “It is meaningless controversy. It is avoidable controversy”. “They (refugees) cannot be held to ransom for the simple reason that they chose their residence in Jammu or Jammu and Kashmir after partition.
“Therefore the nation owes a dignified livelihood to them. This politicking which has just started for past two days is primarily motivated by considerations of Kashmir- centric constituencies,” he said.
Singh said it is time for all, regardless of political affiliations and ideologies, to take a holistic view regarding the issue. He said those raising their voice against the step include many who failed to address the issue despite being in power during the last seven decades. “These sets of activists are unable to digest it,” he said. While separatists have alleged that the move is aimed at changing the demography of the state, the NC claimed that the step will dilute Article 370 on special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Decrying the “false and contrived” impression being created regarding the change of status of WPRs, Jammu and Kashmir Government had on Thursday made it clear that such reports are deliberately being circulated to destabilise the situation and hit the political and economic interests of the people.
“It seems an orchestrated and misleading campaign has been launched to create an impression that the Government is changing the status of the WPR and they are being provided domicile certificates,” Minister for Education and state government spokesman Naeem Akhtar has said in a statement on Thursday.
To facilitate them to get jobs in paramilitary forces and other central government establishments, the Government has issued them identity certificates which is in the same format as exists in the voter list for Parliamentary polls, Naeem said.
“Issuance of Identity Certificates does in no way change the status of the West Pakistan Refugees and they continue to be non-state subjects,” he said. Several political organisation including BJP and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party and refugee organisations have hit out at opposition parties and separatists for opposing identity certificates to West Pakistan refugees.
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