CAB is a boon for West Pakistan Refugees in Jammu

J K News Today  News Analysis

Somewhere down the line , successive governments at the Centre and in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, are responsible for the  Citizenship Amendment Bill passed by the Parliament on Wednesday. It is not difficult to connect the two . For more than 72 years, the governments in Jammu and Kashmir and , in Delhi, shrieked from granting citizenship rights to less than 50,000 families of West Pakistan refugees , Valmikis. Even the displaced people who had come from  the territories now under the control of Pakistan , fleeing massacres and the definite and deliberate persecution of Hindus and Sikhs in 1947-48 ,had to struggle to prove their credentials as citizens of the state.

The bogey of  demographic change in the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir was played up unnecessarily . West Pakistan refugees were asking for the citizenship rights to bring stability in their and their children’s lives. That was denied to them, ignoring the basic tenets of the humanitarian considerations and the international law that anyone who had been residing in a particular place for the prescribed number of years could become citizen of the state.

The main problem , which the Kashmiri-Muslim , centric parties National Conference and PDP, saw in rehabilitating and settling these refugees was that they were Hindus, who had come from  Pakistan in a situation where bloodbath was the order of the day. Hindus and Sikhs in the territories that  came under the control of Pakistan , were hounded out as the cauldron of violence and blood boiled touching the catastrophic levels of horror . They had not come on their own. It was the situation that made them to  come over from across the border like  hundreds of thousands of others who came from Pakistan, and to be fair, several thousands of Muslims also fled to Pakistan hounded out by the bloodthirsty fanatics.

Worst role was played by Congress that used them as a vote bank in the parliamentary elections, for they were entitled to vote as citizens of India, though they had no right to avail these rights in the J&K Assembly, Municipal or panchayat polls-because they were not conferred the citizenship rights of the state.

Until August 5, when the Union Government did away with the Article 35 A and parts of Article 370 , they were treated as non-entities in the state. Rather they , and their protagonists  were demonized as the agents of subversion of the Muslim majority character of the erstwhile state. That was in contrast to the pleas by the Kashmiri leadership that championed the settlement of Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar in Jammu region . This was clearly a communal mindset that was at work- Muslims from Myanmar , hundreds of KMs away from Jammu, were welcome, ignoring the question , why should they be settling in Jammu an area bordering Pakistan and Muslim majority state , instead of locating themselves in eastern parts of the country. The West Pakistan refugees had faced targeted killings more than seven decades ago, but their rights were never taken into consideration .

The merits  and demerits of the CAB would be debated for long   after it becomes a law  with the approval of President, but the plight of the refugees who settled in Jammu from the neighbourhood was not taken seriously.

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