JK News Today
Jammu, November 28:

History took a giant step for West Pakistan refugees on Saturday for West Pakistan Refugees when they were happy to vote for the District Development Council polls- first time in their lives in J&K ever since they came here in 1947.

Earlier, they had no voting rights for any of the elections in J&K, except for the Parliamentary polls, because they were citizens of India and not that of the erstwhile state. The August 5, 2019, decision of abrogation of Article 370, made them equal share holders in the democratic destiny of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It is a moment that we have had dreamed, but didn’t know that it will come in our lifetime,” said Shankar Das, whose father Rala Ram had crossed over to Jammu and Kashmir from a village close to Sialkot to escape the blood and fury of the Partition.

The false prestige of the erstwhile rulers of J&K in preventing West Pakistan refugees, whose number is not even close to 50,000, in grating state citizenship rights, became their nemesis. Now they are struggling and the West Pakistan Refugees have shed the tag of refugees and have become proud citizens of “one nation under one constitution.”
They have termed the change as “real independence” for them.

With one voice all the West Pakistan refugees have hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah as “messiahs”.

“Had Modi not scrapped Article 370, today we would have watched the poling, not participated in it. Prime Minister made our participation as full-fledged citizens of the country possible in these polls,” said Jasdeep who turned emotional while narrating the change and what it meant to them.
While the voting rights have empowered them politically, there are other vistas that have opened for them and their children. They can access education, jobs in J&K and own the land like anyone else within the UT.

“ It is a miracle,” exclaimed Shano Devi, who had been waiting for this moment for decades as she came out of the polling booth.