Separatist leaders, mainstream political parties including National Conference and Congress may have been crying hoarse over issuance of Nativity/Identity certificates to the children of West Pakistan Refugees living in Jammu & Kashmir but for the deprived population of refugees the struggle for their citizenship rights will continue.
“We have won only a small battle after a gap of more than 14 years in the form of Nativity/Identity certificates. We will not rest till we receive our citizenship rights,” Labha Ram Gandhi, President of West Pakistani Refugees Action Committee told The Pioneer.
Terming the propaganda unleashed by the Kashmir valley-based political parties and separatist leaders Gandhi said, it is very unfortunate that these self styled separatist leaders have been creating road blocks for our children who want to earn their livelihood by joining the Central paramilitary forces/Indian armed forces.”
Referring to the letter issued by the Union Home Ministry Gandhi said, “The issue of identity certificate was hanging in balance since 2002 and now the Union Home Ministry in consultation with the State Government has evolved a mechanism to issue Identity certificate to the children so that they could submit the same while applying for recruitment in the Central paramilitary and Indian armed forces.”
Gandhi said despite being living in State since 1947, the west Pakistani refugees have not been granted the J&K citizenship. “It is a humanitarian issue and State Government should issue us citizenship as we are the citizens of India and living in State for over six decades.” At least 19,960 families of West Pakistan Refugees are currently registered with the J&K Government and living in Jammu, Kathua, Samba, Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu region”.
After the Kashmir based leaders hit the streets and launched a sinister campaign the State was forced to issue a fresh clarification claiming, “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 in a statement 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.
Recently, large sections of the people in Kashmir valley observed protests against the government decision to grant domicile certificates to Hindu refugees from West Pakistan. Since most of the readers of today are post-Patition born, it would be appropriate to explain as to how this problem arose in the first instance. British India was divided on the basis of religion in 1947 on the demand of Muslims. In the general elections held in 1945/46, Muslims of undivided India had overwhelmingly voted for the creation of Pakistan, land of the pure. As for as the Princely India was concerned, the rulers of the states were given the option to choose either of the dominion, Hindustan or Pakistan. The Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir conveyed his decision to merge with Hindustan after the state was invaded by Pakistan sponsored tribals from the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan.
Muslims of India had demanded division of the country on the ground of religion and in consonance with their declared objective they forcibly drove out the Hindus/Sikhs from Pakistan. Lakhs of Hindus/Sikhs were butchered by Muslims during the process of migration to Hindustan. The readers should know that Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League, had repeatedly told Gandhi and Nehru that the only permanent solution to Hindu-Muslim conflicts lay in the division of India into Hindustan for Hindus and Pakistan for Muslims. Thus Pakistan completed, on her part, the agenda of Partition. On the contrary, Gandhi and Nehru perpetrated a fraud on the Hindus of Hindustan by asserting that the division of India was a territorial division and not religious division. For years together, Americans and Europeans including the Turks were surprised to know that there were Muslims still left in Hindustan after 1947 considering the fact that the basis of division of India was religion and not territory. In this whole drama of Partition, Nehru had played an indiffrent role. He did not want Hindus of Pakistan to come to Hindustan. On the other hand he asked Sri Prakasa, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan to encourage Muslims to come back to India. As a result, Muslims did come back to India and deprived the Hindu refugees again of their homes and properties in Hindustan. The laws had been amended for Muslims to resume their agricultural lands.
Hindus forced out from their homes in the districts adjoining Jammu & Kashmir state had settled mostly in Jammu division of the State under the impression that Jammu & Kashmir had become an integral part of India. Since 1947/48, these Hindu have been treated as refugees and the state of Jammu and Kashmir has not granted them any rights which are available to other residents of the state. The Government of India had granted them only the right to vote. Now with the present announcement, these Hindu refugees would be able to join Central armed forces. The protestors are protesting against this small mercy shown by the Central Government. These Hindu refugees have been humiliated and discriminated during the last seventy years for no fault of their parents. The division of India was demanded by Muslims of India and they should have been asked to leave for their homeland, Pakistan. Hindus of India had never asked for division of the country. As per International law and conventions, when the population of a country came to be directed against their will, by external circumstances, to migrate, it is the duty of the state to provide all safeguards; in this case, the Hindu refugees. On the contrary, Nehru managed to provide for superior Fundamental Rights to Muslims who were responsible for the division of India. What a travesty of Justice!