JK News Today

Srinagar, December 24

After staging dharna for whole friday night,  to protest against the issuing of Domicile certificates to west pakistan refugees (WPR), Kashmir Police today morning  removed independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rasheed from  pavement outside official residence of Chief Minister in Srinagar on Gupkar Road

Rashid earlier said that his party will sit in for 48-hour to protest sit in against government decision to issue domicile certificates to West Pakistan refugees living in Jammu and Kashmir.

Rasheed along with his supporters, who spent the night under the open sky in freezing temperature, was removed by a police team this morning, officials said.

Er. Rasheed, MLA from Langate and separatists are protesting issuing of Domicile certificate to West Pakistan refugees, who took shelter in Jammu region after Hindu-Muslim Riots following partition in 1947. Their argument is that since these refugees do not belong to Jammu and Kashmir, hence they cannot be given state subject rights. The separatists also say, that giving domicile rights to WPR would amount to disturbing demography of muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir.

The issue erupted after it came to the fore that identity certificates were being issued to WPR. After objections by the mainly Kashmir centric parties and separatists the government PDP through its Spokesman Naeem Akhtar, Education Minister, came out with clarification

Akhtar said the refugees who settled in Jammu and Kashmir, in the aftermath of the partition of the subcontinent, include those from PoK and West Pakistan. “While the refugees from PoK have the status of the permanent residents of the State, those from West Pakistan are not entitled to permanent residence as they are not the domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said and added that given their present status, the West Pakistan Refugees are entitled to vote in the Parliament elections, but can’t exercise their franchise in the state assembly polls.

He said as the West Pakistan Refugees can’t apply for any job within the State, because of being non-state subjects, 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 the Parliamentary polls. “Issuance of Identity Certificates does in no way change the status of the West Pakistan Refugees and they continue to be the non-state subjects,” he said.

Akhtar said,  “unfortunately, earlier this year also controversies were stirred and public passions raised deliberately on tenuous issues like Pandit Colonies and Ex-Servicemen Colonies which ended up with a long spell of disorder and violence in Kashmir resulting in loss of so many precious lives, injuries, destruction of public and private properties, breakdown of academic system, torching of schools, ruining of economy and complete halting of developmental process.”

“Now when the situation has started improving in Kashmir with academic, tourism, developmental and economic activities slowly picking up again, unfortunately speculative reports are being passed around about the change of status of the WPR to create confusion and once again fuel disquiet,” he said and urged the people to “ not to give credence to such unsubstantiated and disingenuous reports.”

According to Labha Ram Gandhi, the leader of WPR, “The number of these refugees  is about 300,000 living in pitiable conditions around Jammu.  They have no properties, no government jobs, their children cannot afford private higher education …….  They are barely surviving on menial jobs — most of them are labourers. Only a few run small shops which they have hired.”

The BJP and various governments at the centre have on numerous occasions promised WPR to deliver them out of pathetic condition. But every time the deliverance gets drowned in politics of Jammu Vs Kashmir.

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